Rebuilding Christchurch has become more than a mission. A unique fusion of recycling and the arts have taken hold in the city as artists, architects and volunteers bring their visions to life.  

Nearly three years after the first of several devastating earthquakes ripped through the city, residents are beginning to enjoy the fruits of an innovative approach to reconstruction. Recycled materials and artistic expression have found a place in the city's heart through three different projects.

Perhaps the most iconic example is a strange and wonderful new building in the heart of the city, dubbed the Cardboard Cathedral.

Created by a firm of Japanese architects, the cathedral is primarily constructed from recycled cardboard tubes and replaces the historic Anglican cathedral badly damaged in the earthquakes.

“It will be the world’s only cathedral made substantially of cardboard,” explained Acting Dean Lynda Patterson.

A spot of golf

Another green initiative, Gap Golf, offers a completely different twist on reclaimed space and recycled materials.

This project has seen the creation of seven holes of mini golf located on earthquake-damaged land across the city.

Volunteers and community groups designed and built the golf holes using donations of artificial turf, wood offcuts and salvaged materials.

According to project organisers, it’s the perfect invitation for people to return to the city together, to play and discover new places.


Healing through art

The Temple for Christchurch project aims to help people experience closure following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The art installation is a visual interpretation of an earthquake’s movement through the ground, based on the seismic data of the February 2011 earthquake.

Built by local volunteers using wood recycled from demolished houses, it’s set to open in September on the site of the old Convention Centre on Peterborough St.

“A group of us who live here in Christchurch thought there was a great need for people to have some emotional healing after all we’ve been through,” Temple Project artist Hippathy Valentine said.

Visitors to the temple are encouraged to bring mementoes from the earthquakes to add to the sculpture.

After a period the whole installation will be relocated to the outskirts of the city and ceremonially burned.

“We want to help people move on, to provide a catalyst for change in their own personal lives,” Hippathy said.