Cathedral to be demolished

March 2nd, 2012 at 9:29 pm by David Farrar

Bishop Victoria Matthews has announced:

Dear Friends,

I am writing to inform you of last evenings meeting and the decision reached about the next step for our beloved Cathedral.

The Standing Committee and Church Property Trustees voted to bring the ChristChurch Cathedral down to a safe level. This is understood to be between two and three meters in height with some parts of the walls necessarily being lower for safety reasons. This means the footprint will be preserved but that there will be extensive controlled demolition and controlled deconstruction. For reasons of safety and the likelihood of ongoing seismic activity, we will not be preserving any of the walls intact. What this plan does allow is the safe retrieval of taonga and heritage items from the ruins. To give one example, we anticipate the safe retrieval of the remaining stained glass windows over the next couple of months. The process of bringing down the Cathedral to a safe level will take most of the balance of the year.

This is very different from the plan presented last October, due to the seismic events of 23 December. CERA has insisted that we present a new plan to ensure the building is safe and we agree with their requirement.

I am sad to have to relay this decision but I believe it is the way forward. There are of course other voices and alternative opinions but I have relayed to you the decision of the Cathedral Project Group, which is the group that has the delegated authority to make recommendations about the future of the Cathedral to the Cathedral Chapter, CPT and Standing Committee. The decision was made with much prayer and deliberation and has the support of each of the various groups. It is also the decision that has the highest support from CERA for safety reasons. The demolition and deconstruction will be carried our with care and great respect for a wonderful sacred space that has been damaged beyond repair.

My prayers and the prayers of many around the world are with you at this time. It is now up to all of us to show that we are the living Cathedral of Christchurch; and that we carry within us and live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go and wherever we are. In the midst of this sad outcome let us not neglect to witness to the hope within us due to Gods love, grace and mercy.

In Christ,

A very sad decision, but arguably an inevitable one.

I quite like the suggestion one person made which is to turn the ruins into the central memorial for the earthquakes, and a tourist attraction – and build an entirely new cathedral next to it.

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31 Responses to “Cathedral to be demolished”

  1. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    Now the decision is made to demolish & not rebuild the Christ Church Cathedral, should Christchurch change its name?

    Back to Ōtautahi, perhaps?

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  2. kowtow (7,645 comments) says:

    Hey turd,

    Try a referendum you arse.

    [DPF: The cathedral is private property, not public property. You don't get a vote on the decisions of private owners]

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  3. Than (425 comments) says:

    Public safety must come first, so the decision to demolish is the right one.

    But in the medium-long term this building should be reconstructed to as close to the original plan as possible. It is the iconic image of Christchurch. Its destruction was symbolic of the damage the earthquake caused, and it’s rebuilding would likewise be a symbol of Christchurch’s recovery.

    If the Anglican communion wish to build and consecrate a cathedral elsewhere, that is entirely their choice. But a building of this design should be built exactly where the Christchurch Cathedral used to stand.

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  4. DJP6-25 (1,272 comments) says:

    kowtow 9:46 pm. Noooo! That would never do. The peasants are too ignorant to decide. All decisions must made by card carrying socialists with a BS Degree. Us mere peasants should just shut up, and work harder to generate the taxes to pay for it all.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  5. Colville (2,083 comments) says:

    I dont do the God thing but it was still a cool building and meant a lot to a lot. It will be missed.

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  6. mara (726 comments) says:

    Once it’s bowled some engineering/architectural type will pop up with what could have been a doable way of restoring it. Too late. Shame really. NZ doesn’t seem to “do” history very well unless it’s maori.

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  7. V (668 comments) says:

    Not a religious person, or a heritage advocate, but I can’t believe they have decided not to repair/rebuild this, of all the buildings that are being demolished, surely they can restore this one.

    OK some deconstruction is needed to make safe before restoration, but the fact they have turned down free offers from overseas of assistance for restoration options to bring it up to the latest earthquake standards boggles the mind.

    I’m sure those international donors who put up money and spoke specifically of rebuilding the cathedral will feel duped for giving money.

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  8. Kimble (4,383 comments) says:

    Gods love, grace and mercy.

    Remind me again, earthquakes are an act of what? A loving, graceful, merciful God. I dont think theists know what those words mean.

    [DPF: The cathedral is private property, not public property. You don't get a vote on the decisions of private owners]

    VERY private property. It is, in fact, God’s house. It comes down to property rights. If I wanted to knock down my house, I should be able to. God wanted His house destroyed, so who are we to question His will?

    But wait, this is part of God’s plan, right? So why be sad that God’s plan is one step closer to His end goal?

    Its a fairytale.

    The cathedral should have been built from gingerbread.

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  9. Daigotsu (450 comments) says:

    @Toad: It’s named after Christchurch in England, not after the church in the middle of it – it was called Christchurch long before the Anglican Cathedral was put up.

    As for the idea that it should be changed “back to Otautahi”, the name Otautahi was adopted for the city as a whole in the 1930s – before then it referred to a specific area of one particular suburb. Before that Maori called the city “Karaitiana”, which was simply a transliteration of Christchurch.

    Reference: http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/tikoukawhenua/otautahi/

    So basically, try checking that you know what the fuck you’re talking about before you open your mouth hhmm? It’s funny, the Greens claim to be all about decentralised decision making, but an Auck like you is more than happy to make suggestions based on totally bullshit preconceptions on a city he clearly knows nothing about.

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  10. peterwn (3,164 comments) says:

    See:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6516494/Parkers-Cathedral-plea-spurned

    There is wooley thinking on the part of Bob Parker and the Historic Places Trust.

    Bob Parker wants the Anglican Church to give the site to the Council, while the Historic Places Trust thinks the church authorities have pots of money to spend on restoring or strengthening heritage buildings.

    If those who want to see Christchurch Cathedral restored in its original format – the answer is to get out and start fundraising. – it is that simple.

    This happened for the completion of Wellington Cathedral since the general mood in the Diocese was that completion could not be justified when considering budgets, projects, etc. And the fundraising had to be targeted in a way as not to impact on routine fundraising. Similarly for many other cathedrals around the world over the centuries.

    For these sorts of reasons the Brisbane Anglican Cathedral is almost certainly the last ‘dinkum’ Gothic cathedral (complete with stone vaulted arches supporting the roof) to be built in the world. No doubt it only happened because of the prosperity of Queensland and Brisbane.

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  11. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    kowtow, DJP6-25, Daigotsu:

    The expected Pavlovian responses. Hey, it was a wind-up, guys, and you fell right into it. Which one of you is Lhaws?

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  12. iMP (2,245 comments) says:

    Whether we are religious or not let’s remember that Christchurch was actually CREATED by the Anglican church, is named by them, and was formally constituted as a city for the purposes of evangelism by Queen Victoria (literally for “the saving of souls”). The Royal seals stating this are still in the Cathedral. Chch is not a secular city, from its beginning it has, and still is, a Bishop’s seat. Even Chch’s founder was called Godly. The Anglicans should therefore decide, not that idiot Councillor Aaron Keown or some public cmte of hand wringers who can’t accept the earthquakes have changed everything.

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  13. iMP (2,245 comments) says:

    Daigotsu 2:51 am, “Christhurch” in England (and several other cities around the world, incl. ours) was named after Christ Church church, cathedral and community. What are you doing at 2.51am? praying? Excellent.

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  14. Pete George (22,863 comments) says:

    Spire smote
    Terra spoke

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  15. MT_Tinman (2,993 comments) says:

    I’m all for Christchuch Cathedral to be placed where it was originally planned – in Hagley Park.

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  16. Rufus (621 comments) says:

    Kimble – you are so predictable. Sad really. Now all we need is Wat to come and stick his boot in. 3…2…1…

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  17. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Why this decision took so long is beyond me. Any buildingof masonry or unreinforced concrete is unsafe. Even concrete buildings – to whit several buioldings in Chch – are unsafe.

    We have had a life threatening earthquake in NZ about every 5 years – most though have been in low populated areas. However three of the more damaging have been in the last 5 years – Gisbourne and 2 in Chch. On average there will be another one in another 5 years – but where will it be??

    Anyone thinking that a building like the cathedral should be rebuilt is simply trying to control mother nature – cant be done.

    Also – it seems the centre of Chch might be doomed – so maybe it should all be turned into a big park and organisations like the Anglican community take the opportunity (that few get) to take the insurance money and build a wooden or steel structure in a more desirable location.

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  18. Peter (1,578 comments) says:

    Get rid of it. These heritage types are clinging onto a past that is gone.

    Build something for the next 100 years, and build it on solid ground. Preferably build something less pompous, but their call.

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  19. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    Toad, if you weren’t an ignorant arse, you’d know that “Otautahi” was invented in the 1930s. The name Christchurch was derived from the Oxford college “Christ Church”, and was thought of prior to the settlers even leaving England, well before the Cathedral was built and has nothing to do with it. You may fuck off with your heartless and racist stirring.

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  20. KevinH (1,132 comments) says:

    To rebuild the cathedral back to it’s original condition, as desired by many Christchurch residents,would require an almost complete demolition of the existing damaged structure which is in an unsafe condition. Substantial earthworks would also have to be undertaken to strengthen the masonary buildings structure.
    The feasability of undertaking such an ambitious reconstruction programme would prove to be prohibitively expensive, and not practical in consideration of the ongoing seismic activity in the Cathedral Square zone.
    Sadly as decided by Church Property Trustee’s , the only sensible option is to completely demolish the existing building and build a new church that perhaps embraces the Gothic style of the damaged structure. Alternatively, with the future in mind, now is perhaps the opportunity to construct a new cathedral, that encapsulates the spirit and wairua of Christchurch, and transport that vision into the future with a modern perhaps neo classical design.

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  21. Kimble (4,383 comments) says:

    You know what else is sad and predictable, rufus?

    That religious people will attribute all good to God and all bad to …? Even though, according to their own religion, God is the root of all evil.

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  22. peterwn (3,164 comments) says:

    Put it Away – Churches have been named after saints and other Christian entities for many centuries. Various churches have been named Christ just as names like St Pauls, Church of the Good Shepherd, St Michaels and All Angels, etc. The founders of Christchurch who organised immigration on the first four ships, came from Canterbury, Kent and the cathedral there being the seat of The Archbishop of Canterbury (England) is dedicated to Christ (Christ Church). The Archbishop gave his blessing to the Canterbury settlement. Hence the naming of the cathedral, the school (Christ’s College, which remains independent but could have been absorbed into the state system like), the city and the province. The origins of Christ’s College could well have been children attending classes lessons on the first four ships. The settlers could have just as readily called the city Canterbury and the province Kent.

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  23. mavxp (494 comments) says:

    I agree with this decision. The building is too far gone to repair economically, and perhaps more importantly practicably.

    Unreinforced masonry is fine for taking the self weight of a building to the ground, and even then has limitations, which Cathedrals are fine examples of attempts over centuries to continually extend the limits of, with breathtaking examples across Europe. But that was in a largely quake-free part of the world.

    Here in New Zealand we have found, based on our own experiences, that the building techniques of old do not work, that new technologies are required for safe construction that will not just survive earthquakes, but perform so well, it is as if only a strong gust of wind came along – i.e. imperceptible damage. We have plenty of examples of excellent performing modern buildings in Christchurch, of which the Art Gallery is a fine example, as is the HSBC building. We can and should expect better of our new buildings.

    For a rebuilt Cathedral, as with a rebuilt Town Hall, we must aim for performance that will not just survive a big earthquake, but perform so well it is as if none occurred at all. It can be done, we have the technology and the cost is not so much more than you would think. We must think this way about our iconic buildings: Longevity, and to leave a legacy that will last a thousand years.

    Whether we choose to rebuild it with steel, glass, stone, reinforced concrete or timber, or most likely a combination thereof, does not matter provided form follows function. Design, true to God design, will incorporate the engineering with the architecture seamlessly, it will be an accomplishment of the best of our knowledge and abilities as a society to create.

    A firm like Foster & Partners would be a good Architect/ Engineer to engage on this project.

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  24. Paulus (2,503 comments) says:

    Sadly the Cathedral, like all CBD, cannot bre rebuilt as many would like it.

    The Bible tells us to build on Rock, not on Sand, which is many parts of Christchurch.

    Like the wonderful Coventry Cathedral, in England, keep what can be safely retained as a fitting memorial, and build a modern construction church, close by, or over it.

    Coventry is on rock, not sand, and damage was man made.

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  25. Anthony (768 comments) says:

    Old stone churches are hardly a rarity and I dare say there are plenty in the UK that look very similar to the Christchurch one. A new modern construction that is cheaper to build and won’t fall down in another earthquake seems far more sensible – and probably more attractive in my view.

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  26. PaulL (5,874 comments) says:

    We need to be careful that we don’t penny pinch whatever gets built, and spend the next 100 years wishing someone built a good one. I don’t really mind what it looks like – it doesn’t have to be a masonary church in a particular style, but I’d like to see something that is reasonably original, reasonably classic/timeless, and something that is a bit more than just the cheapest building that can be built on that spot.

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  27. V (668 comments) says:

    I think it speaks volumes of NZers attitude that not even one damaged heritage building can be restored following the earthquake damage, even if it is funded solely from private donations.
    One wonders what the attiutude would be like if it were a 140yr old Marae that had suffered a similar fate?

    Would any on here assuming all modern buildings are by definition ‘safe’, care to comment on some of the brand new tilt slabs that were put up in October/November 2010, only to mysteriously require demolishing after February 2011?

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  28. mavxp (494 comments) says:

    V, modern buildings are inherently more safe in earthquakes due to the simple fact they are designed with earthquakes in mind, unlike old unreinforced masonry (i.e. Cathedral and many old shops and warehouses in the CBD). The difference is night and day.

    That some cheap tilt slab buildings required demolition post February is not a surprise. February was at least twice as strong as what the building code requires engineers design for as a minimum in Christchurch. Most commercial/ industrial buildings are built to be as cheap as necessary hence minimum required strength against earthquakes. Anything more than that and you expect permanent damage – possibly requiring demolition. More important buildings are (or should, and certainly can be) built to higher performance targets. It costs more, but then you get what you pay for. The high rise buildings in Tokyo are built to sustain much higher earthquake forces than we design for in NZ, and performed very well in the mega quake in March 2011, despite the length of shaking and intensity.

    Any new Cathedral or building of importance in CHCH should be designed appropriately, regardless of materials used.

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  29. V (668 comments) says:

    @mavxp

    You, like everybody else are assuming the cathedral couldn’t be rebuilt employing base isolation and a number of other modern techniques.

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  30. RRM (9,471 comments) says:

    In the terminal at Wellington airport there’s a large-scale model of the Cathedral made out of perspex; it’s a donation box for some Chch relief appeal.

    It’s also quite a beautiful and haunting thing. A full-size version of it could be built on the original site as a striking tribute to what once was.

    Suggestion:
    :arrow: Demolish the cathedral walls down to ground level, or say within a metre of ground level.
    :arrow: Leave the original floor in place.
    :arrow: Build a ductile steel frame building in the outline of the original Cathedral.
    :arrow: Clad the whole thing in glass, possibly coloured similar to the front of the Chch art gallery.

    It would be a tasteful memorial to what has been lost; its outline would remind those who remember it of the old Cathedral, but it wouldn’t be a fake or poorly-executed rebuild of something that was genuinely old.
    It would also be buildable quickly using modern techniques and materials.

    Potentially it could be something quite stunning, and an attraction in its own right, just as the previous Cathedral was:
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3227/2967040200_6b04ebf9d3.jpg
    http://www.dsdesignsonline.com/Pagine/Webgraphics/Portfolio/GraphicArt/GlassCathedral.jpg
    http://www.stainedglassandmore.com/images/BeveledGlass/MiniBeveledSM205/101_2034_edited.JPG

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  31. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Wonderful idea RRM just don’t ask for taxpayer money to fund it.

    relegions are tax free so there must be a few quid floating around, use that other wise its just a building knock it down.

    People never went to Chrsitchurch just to see a church, they might look at while they are there but it was never a destination.

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