cardboard cathedral

Dearest ______

I remember reading about a major earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand not too long ago, one which caused great loss in lives and living to key areas of the disaster.
A tragically captivating phrase I caught recently could probably summarize the wake of that calamity in 2011:

“A mansion under English skies;
beautiful as a wreck of paradise.”


The other week, we discovered an architectural gem amidst Christchurch’s continued efforts to restore their near- lost urban paradise.


Just as we’d started getting into Shigeru Ban winning this year’s Pritzker Prize for his innovative and humanitarian use of recycled paper and cardboard tubes as architectural materials in disaster- stricken areas around the world, we suddenly came face to face with one of his most famous works.

The Cardboard Cathedral.


What a surreal autumn evening that was, seeing literal salvation in exciting colors and geometries.


As if that encounter wasn’t enough, the very next day we drove to the small and quaint town of Geraldine where:

We met an old man inside a museum who nonchalantly told us he personally knew “Shigeru”! This, he mentioned, after learning that we were in Design ourselves.


“Very nice man, that Shigeru. I chauffeured for him while he lived here, you know. Very hard- working man.

“Every four projects he gets, he does the last one for free. For charity. Every fourth, I tell you. Very nice man.”


We love Shigeru Ban already.

But now the only nagging question that’s in my mind is…
How do other disaster- prone countries (say, the Philippines, ehem) get into a rehabilitation program that’s as promising and, well, real as what they have down under?



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Photography and text by Author unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.


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