I read an article on the web yesterday, marking the start of works on Shigeru Ban’s interim cardboard cathedral for Christchurch New Zealand. Having tried to make a piece of church out of cardboard ourselves, I thought I’d reflect on it a little more.
Anyone familiar with Ban’s work will know that when it comes to cardboard construction, he is the craftsman. It is therefore no suprise when suggested that the building could have a lifespan of 50 years.
There are many things I enjoy about this particular project: As a humble material, it has been elevated to an extraordinarily high status. This must be one of the most sustainable building materials we can produce (I’ve also seen buildings in Austria that demonstrate the material’s excellent insulating properties). The building has such a natural and satisfying evolution in both idea and construction- slowly growing through architectural models like a russian doll. Lasting for up to 50 years, the building also challenges us to think about what is permanent and what is temporary.
It makes me wonder whether we should think more seriously about constructing in cardboard, or at least recognise we can have some serious fun with it…