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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.