Cardboard Cathedral Planned in New Zealand

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ChristChurch Cathedral

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A cathedral made from cardboard.

The idea may sound flimsy, particularly given that cathedrals tend to be known for their solid presence: the flying buttresses, the soaring domes, the Gothic grandeur. But in the earthquake-devastated city of Christchurch, Anglican leaders believe it will deliver both a temporary solution and a statement about the city's recovery.

On Monday, they announced plans to build a 25-meter (82-foot) high cathedral constructed with 104 tubes of cardboard. The structure will be a temporary replacement for the iconic stone ChristChurch Cathedral, which was ruined last year in an earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed much of the downtown.

The Rev. Craig Dixon, a church spokesman, said the temporary cathedral would seat 700 people, cost up to 5 million New Zealand dollars ($4.1 million), and would be used for 10 years while a permanent replacement is designed and built.

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A Cathedral Made From Cardboard
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Cardboard Cathedral Planned in New Zealand
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The Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, has used cardboard as a material for other temporary buildings, including a "paper church" used as a community center after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.

Dixon said he hopes construction can begin within about six weeks and be completed by the end of the year.

"I think this building has the potential to become an icon in its own right," he said. "I think it will be greatly loved for a long time."

Dixon said the structure would be weatherproof and fire-resistant. He said the plan is to use traditional materials like concrete, steel and wood to provide structural support to the A-frame-style cathedral and an attached annex. Up to two dozen shipping containers inside would provide space for offices, a kitchen and storage, he added, while the roof would be made of an opaque polycarbonate material.

Richard Gray, the chairman of a church group that has been driving the project, said the cathedral will make a statement that Christchurch is moving forward, and that people are finding solutions that are not only innovative but also environmentally friendly -- after all, he points out, the cathedral would be recyclable.

Anglican leaders in Christchurch have chosen a site in Latimer Square, about 300 meters from the ruins of the current cathedral and near where 115 people died when the Canterbury Television building collapsed.

"It's very symbolic that it's across the road from the CTV building. It's very poignant," Gray said.

Anglican leaders have yet to submit their final plans to city officials, who would need to approve them before construction could begin. City officials did not respond to requests for comment Monday, although Gray said he's confident that the church has done its due diligence and the project will be approved.

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Inspired Church Conversions
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Cardboard Cathedral Planned in New Zealand

There are a lot of offbeat conversions out there, but churches? Those might take the cake. (Except for maybe a nuclear plant turned amusement park.) 

Church conversions are still an intriguing thing -- we swear to God -- and, what's more, they also seem to be unusually affordable. What better time to view them than Easter. 

Click through our gallery to see some of the most hallowed real estate on the market. 

Location: Seattle 
Price: $789,000
Beds/Baths: 6/3.5
Sq. Ft.: 6,300

You could call this luxury church conversion: It's got a price tag that dwarfs some of our other picks. "The Big House in Ballard" was built in 1907, and thanks to its revamped interior, now offers six bedrooms. 

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

The home also serves as a venue for art, music and event "happenings," the listing says. The facade recently had a "Gothic Crow" window installed, which weighs a whopping 2,000 pounds.

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

Just beyond double doors in the structure's tower awaits an expansive sanctuary. The former baptismal? It was converted into a bathroom.

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

The pastor's office is now a bedroom, and there's an apartment on the property that brings in high rent, the listing says. At the top of the tower is a crow's nest, putting you just a little closer to the Big Guy Upstairs. 

See the listing, or watch Zillow's video house tour of the place

Boasting a handsome brick facade this 19th century church is now a single family loft, with its own kitchen. 

Visit Inhabitat.com to learn more about the place

The cavernous interior has soaring ceilings that reach 40 feet. There are two oak staircases that put you on the second floor, in reach of the two-story bell tower. 

Visit Inhabitat.com to learn more about the place

The first floor has three bedrooms, and there's a "dining nook" occupying the space where the altar used to stand. 

Visit Inhabitat.com to learn more about the place

Stained-glass windows flood the home with natural light, giving its hardwood floors, an -- you could say -- ethereal glow. 

Visit Inhabitat.com to learn more about the place

Location: Dresden, Tenn. 
Price: $39,900
Beds/Baths: 5/3
Sq. Ft.: 3,902

This Southern church may come off as a bit more modest than some other places of worship-turned-homes in our gallery, but you can't beat the price. $39,900 is already ultra-cheap for a home, but here we're talking 5 acres of property and 3,902 square feet of interior space. 

See the listing for more details

Some of home's original holy trappings are still clearly visible. Pictured here is what appears to be the church's pulpit. 

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The home received additions in the 1950s. The home's kitchen, unlike some other parts of the place, conceals the structure's original purpose.   

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Location: Bellevue, Ky. 
Price: $219,500
Beds/Baths: 2/2
Sq Ft: N/A

This striking former church is listed for $219,500. The building houses loft condos and has an enormous stained-glass window. 

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Many of the interior flourishes are a century old, but still appear to be in good condition, like this stained-glass window.

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In an unlikely design trope, the home's interior is, well, hip. The most notable detail to earn that designation? An iPod in-wall music system. 

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Location: Pacific, Mo. 
Price: $174,000
Beds/Baths: 3/2
Sq. Ft.: 3,800

The seller of this home apparently had to cut short his efforts to transform the 125-year-old building into a full-blown residence. The owner got about halfway there, according to MLS.  

See the listing for more details

The home offers arched doorways, stained glass, elaborate fixtures and custom woodwork. A wide staircase leads to a space that the seller intended to convert into a master suite. 

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There's a kitchen, an airy foyer, and the great room has two-story high, vaulted ceilings, church-style. The property also has its own fishpond. 


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Location: Bessemer, Mich. 
Price: $68,000
Beds/Baths: 6 units
Sq. Ft.: 3,600

Perhaps our most residential-looking conversion, this former church now houses four apartment units, as well as a duplex. $68,000 brings you six units in all, making the place seem like a heck of an investment opportunity. 

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Location: Britt, Iowa
Price: $39,500
Beds/Baths: 5/2
Sq. Ft.: 4,071

Built in 1900, this repurposed church offers five bedrooms, and has functioned as a home for a while. 

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The exterior makes the building's former purpose quite obvious, but its interior could have you fooled because of an extensive makeover. 

See the listing for more details

Location: Flaxton, N.D.
Price: $29,900
Beds/Baths: 0/1
Sq. Ft.: N/A

What's with churches, and being ridiculously cheap? Apparently, for $29,900, you can snag a bona fide cathedral. You're only working with one bathroom though, so the buyer should be prepared to spend some coin on renovations. 

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There are the characteristic vaulted ceilings, and lots and lots of space. Particle board could come in handy in the early stages of an overhaul. 

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This tidy, repurposed church looks almost like a cottage, with its white picket fence and well-kept yard. 

Read Zillow's profile on the home to learn more

The home's highlight may be its expansive living room, flooded by natural light from arched windows. 

Read Zillow's profile on the home to learn more

Get this: the reason why the interior is so snappy is that the former owners, who originally used the place as a wedding chapel, spent $500,000 over four years to convert it into a home. The kitchen features granite countertops and custom cabinetry. 

Read Zillow's profile on the home to learn more

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