Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Three cathedral options unveiled

Lloyd Ashton for Taonga News  |  04 Apr 2013  |  6 Comments  

Cantabrians have glimpsed what shape a new Cathedral in the Square could take.

Three design options have been unveiled – restored, traditional and contemporary – and over the next month the Diocese of Christchurch and the Church Property Trustees will take those options to the public.

They’ll explain the pros and cons of each at a number of presentations and public forums during April. And they will actively seek feedback from the public about those three choices. 

The diocese has launched: for that express purpose. This site, which features detailed info on each option and solicits feedback, will be live until May 2.

At that point the Cathedral Property Group will collate and review that feedback – and feed that summarised info to the Church Property Trustees, which will select a preferred option.

Those three options are:

Restored – a back-to-foundations restoration of the iconic cathedral, but seismically strengthened. Quantity surveyors estimate this would cost a minimum of $104 million and up to $221 million, depending on how many years are needed to raise the money.

If everything went to plan, restoring the building would take 6.5 years. But if fundraising is slow, the quantity surveyors suggest it could take more than 20 years to complete. 

Traditional – this option acknowledges the Gothic Revival form of the old cathedral, but veers away from heavy masonry and slate in favour of a timber structure and lightweight materials. It would be clad in lightweight glass reinforced concrete, with a laminated timber interior and a copper-over-ply roof.

This option would feature a belltower – but in its upper reaches, this tower would be filigreed.

Quantity surveyors estimate the traditional model cathedral would cost between $85 million and $181 million, and would take between five and 22 years to finish, again depending on how quickly money can be raised.

Contemporary – the modern option still acknowledges the past, with its central axis aligned along Worcester St, and the “praying hands” curved roof, recalling the vertical forms and pointed arches of Gothic architecture.

This option would feature a restored rose window on the western glass wall, and a glass and steel belltower. It has been costed at $56 million to $74 million and, depending on the time needed to raise funds, it could take between 4.5 and 9.5 years to build.

The insurance payout for the ruined cathedral will contribute about $30 million towards the cost of whatever option is finally selected for construction – and the balance will have to be raised.

The three options were outlined yesterday to the Chapter of ChristChurch Cathedral, and then again to a combined meeting of the Cathedral Property Group, the Church Property Trustees and the Diocesan Standing Committee.

The Cathedral Project Manager Marcus Read launched the presentation to the Chapter, and said he was “really excited to be able to show the public that the last 18 months work has got us somewhere – other than to court.

“We are hoping this project will inspire the city to look to the future.”

Bishop Victoria began the second presentation by quoting from 2nd Chronicles, where King Solomon dedicates the temple he had built:

 18 ‘But will God indeed reside with mortals on earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built! 19 Have regard to your servant’s prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you. 20 May your eyes be open day and night towards this house, the place where you promised to set your name, and may you heed the prayer that your servant prays towards this place.

The presentations were not without humour. One of the Standing Committee members declared his “reassurance” that the traditional and contemporary options would include a restored rose window, and material and artefacts salvaged from the ruined cathedral.

To which Bishop Victoria quipped: “To the best of our knowledge, the effigy of Bishop Harper is just fine.”

The options were outlined to a media conference on Thursday, then on Monday eight information stands will be erected around the city and 15,000 postcards outlining the options will be distributed.

On Wednesday evening, April 10, the first public forum will be held at the Westpac Business and Community Hub in Christchurch, and on the following Saturday the options will again be described to the Christchurch Diocesan Synod.

The roadshow heads to Auckland on Tuesday, April 16; at the invitation of Catholic Archbishop John Dew, Bishop Victoria Matthews will explain the options to the Catholic Bishops. And she’ll also take part in a lunchtime forum at Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

There’ll be a presentation by the Church Property Trustees to the Christchurch City Council’s Earthquake Forum on Thursday April 18, and another public forum on April 24 at the Westpac Business and Community Hub.

Public feedback on the options will be collated and circulated to the Cathedral Project Group for review after May 3 – and thus equipped, the CPG, Church Property Trustees and the Diocesan Standing Committee will decide on their preferred option.

This option will then be outlined to the High Court, which will come to a decision on the case brought by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust to stop deconstruction of the quake-damaged cathedral.

Thursday's rollout of the three options is the latest stage in an process which has seen the formulation of design guidelines, and a functional brief, a study tour of selected overseas cathedrals, and the invitation for members of the diocese to take part via blog or email in “Cathedral Conversations”. 

• Bishop Victoria on what makes a cathedral

 Listen to Bishop Victoria on Morning Report


Tim McKenzie

Worth looking at the proposed changes to interior layout of option 3, proposed at Christchurch Synod:

Paddy Noble

Why is Christchurch considering on spending millions of dollars on a building when a lot of the people who were affected by the earthquake are left with no housing. I find it an injustice that the church that advocates injustices and commits to helping the poor and missions work looks at spendings millions up to 181 million dollars and maybe 22 years. Maybe the earthquake has taught people that people are more important than buildings.

Hammond Peek

At last a design to lift my spirits, a design that breaths lightness, air and inward serenity, that embraces a wish to look boldly forward, that acknowledges our past without making me feel tied, contained, or somehow restricted by a backward-looking emphasis.
To create something this breathtaking and potentially iconic is wonderful, and daring.
For me the contemporary cathedral proposal is exciting, ambitious, courageous, and says in no uncertain terms “We have been wounded to our core...but we will recover, and we will build a new modern city that is both bold and innovative, with our own unique kiwi style and panache.”
We don’t need the “approval” or condescension of architects from other countries...we have our own visions to express, our own statements to make about how we see ourselves, and our place, in the world.
Kia kaha Christchurch.

Hammond Peek
Mt Pleasant

Chris Darnell

I spent time today coming back to all three designs through the day. I love the old cathedral, but look forward to something that communicates to the city in a more meaningful way, and meets the spacial needs of the Cathedral communities in a better way. The contemporary option is by far the better option. Beautiful design details. I weep at the tomb of the old lady, but take joy in the hope of resurrection.

Tim McKenzie

With you all the way, Karrie, about the contemporary. A little bit Gothic, a lot contemporary, and hints of Duerer's praying hands. Fantastic. It's the kind of place that could teach you to be a 21st Century Christian, I reckon. As the poet said, "Circular as our way / is, it leads not back to that snake-haunted / garden, but onward to the tall city / of glass, that is the laboratory of the spirit". We have to be able to worship in "the tall city of glass", and to teach people how to do that; for my money, this design points the way. Plus, if we have to be pragmatic about it, mock-gothic cathedrals are a dime-a-dozen, and I can't imagine many people travelling solely to visit an exact replica of the old cathedral. But, an exciting new one, well... I can imagine the tourists coming in droves.

karrie white

love the contemporary...It has links with the past and moves us forward, with hope for the future...I hope that you will make the feedback available for us all to read...with usename only... it does say cathedral conversations and while i want to give you feedback I also want to see what others are saying and have the opportunity to debate this openly