6 Sep 2017

Sky-high cardboard building to rise and fall in Christchurch

From Nine To Noon, 9:40 am on 6 September 2017
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Photo: Christchurch Arts Festival

Using just cardboard boxes and tape, the people of Christchurch are helping to create something magical in their city – a sky-high building that will be erected then demolished at the Arts Centre this weekend.

The Ephemeral City is a community construction project designed by French artist Olivier Grossetête that has come to Christchurch this year as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival.

Festival director Craig Cooper and Emerald City head builder Christophe Goddett tell Kathryn Ryan what it's about.

Grossetête always creates something specific to a city and his design incorporates a response to the Christchurch cathedral.

Market Square in the Arts Centre was the perfect setting, with its neo-gothic architecture that is so distinctly Christchurch, Cooper says.

“I wanted something to reflect that neo-gothic heritage, much of which was lost in the quakes, but also much of which has been preserved.”

Anyone can drop in and help construct the cardboard components of the build this week.

On Saturday, they'll be fitted together and the building will emerge in a couple of hours. On Sunday it will be demolished.

Goddett loves sharing Oliver's building technique and seeing the project bringing people together.

Anyone can learn in just a few minutes how to score with a knife and ruler and cut the cardboard into the right shape, he says.

“Once you’ve made one, you’ve got it... Even if you only have five minutes or ten minutes in the workshop, it counts for the construction.”

Cooper likes that the construction material – cardboard boxes – is something children naturally play with.

“The kids come into the workshop, they get a short briefing, and literally within 30 seconds they are all hands-on, because it’s something that’s so familiar.”

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