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…

photo 11



6 thoughts on “Members of the Board

  1. Shigeru Ban is great! What I find interesting about his work is the way he uses cardboard with other building materials such as concrete i.e. by filling cardboard tubes with concrete, the tube acts as both shuttering and finish. I also heard a great story where his work in disaster relief areas helped protect local trees. Why? Because the locals were selling the aluminium poles that came with tents issued by the UN and were replacing them by chopping down trees! Ban’s cardboard tubes stopped this happening! Brilliant!

  2. Great post Ferg, Shigeru Ban is one of my favourite designers. He’s even made an external bridge using the humble tubes, with the help of a coating of lacquer to protect them from moisture. We do have some building components with cardboard cores or honey-combs but yes it is a building resource with lots of potential.

  3. I’m interested in the relationship between the interrim building and the original – is full restoration of the old cathedral proposed? Perhaps Shigeru Ban’s quick to assemble proposal is a wiser permanent strategy in a city on a tectonic fault line?

  4. A brilliant concept and cardboard in musical instruments, such as harps, is providing a lower cost option and making them more accessible.

    Utterly irreverent, I know, but my first thought on reading this article was a quote from the Goon Show’s Tales of Old Dartmoor…”And that dear listeners is why the Dartmoor we know today is only a cardboard replica.”

    • Will: great take on the other humanitarian elements of Ban’s work!
      Echo: what a brilliant quote. I don’t want to play it down with an lol, but I sincerely did laugh out loud at that. Great to hear about the instruments too…
      We’re looking forward to producing cardboard furniture mock ups in Bath Abbey as our thinking on their Footprint project progresses. What a great bunch to work with. We’ll keep you posted!

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