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Cardboard cathedral to replace church destroyed in New Zealand quake

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, collapsing buildings, cracking streets and causing multiple fatalities and serious injuries.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, collapsing buildings, cracking streets and causing multiple fatalities and serious injuries.Mark Mitchell / AP
An artist impression of a temporary cathedral made from cardboard which will be built in Christchurch, New Zealand to replace the historic Anglican cathedral destroyed in last year's earthquakes.
An artist impression of a temporary cathedral made from cardboard which will be built in Christchurch, New Zealand to replace the historic Anglican cathedral destroyed in last year's earthquakes.Anglican Church Of New Zealand / AFP - Getty Images

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand's Anglican church will build a temporary cathedral made of cardboard in earthquake-devastated Christchurch as it works toward a permanent replacement for its 131-year old landmark destroyed last year.

The Victorian-era, Gothic-style cathedral, which dominated the city's central square, was badly damaged in the February 2011 quake, and is being demolished.

The replacement, an A-frame structure designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, will be built on the site of another historic church, which was also destroyed in the 6.3 magnitude quake.

PhotoBlog: New Zealand's quake-hit cathedral to be demolished

"The Transitional Cathedral is a symbol of hope for the future of this city as well as being sustainable and affordable," spokesman Richard Gray said Monday.

The cathedral's marketing and development manager Reverand Craig Dixon said the temporary cathedral would "excite people," the New Zealand Herald reported.

"As the cathedral walls are lowered, and it becomes a prayer space, a place of beauty and reflection, people can quite easily walk from [the site of the destroyed cathedral] to the transitional cathedral," Bishop Victoria Matthews said according to the Herald.

"Because that sense of pilgrimage is what we are all involved in here in Christchurch and Canterbury -- understanding that there has been loss but that a great new thing is happening ... we're invited to be part of that," she said.

City center still off limits
The temporary cathedral will be made of cardboard tubes, timber beams, structural steel and a concrete pad, and is intended to last more than 20 years. It is expected to be finished in time for Christmas services in December. 

The cost of the new cathedral has reportedly been estimated at around NZ$5 million ($4.1 million).

Ban is known for his reinforced paper and cardboard structures and designed a similar "paper church" after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.

Christchurch's landmark cathedral was a favorite meeting place and tourist attraction, but any chance of saving it was ended by several strong aftershocks that caused more damage.

New Zealand faces a NZ$20 billion ($16.5 billion) bill to rebuild its second largest city, the center of which remains off limits more than a year after the quake. Whole blocks have been reduced to bare land.

However, thousands of tremors, some with magnitudes of up to 6, have delayed any concerted rebuilding.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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