Christchurch Cathedral, Aukland

In 2011 Christchurch, NZ, was hit by a destructive earthquake. The city’s cathedral, a somewhat clunky gothic design by Gilbert Scott, partially collapsed. We were asked by Euan Harkness, Christchurcher and Vice Chairman at Barcap, to conceive a different kind of cathedral for the city – one that looked forward rather than to the past. We invited Grimshaw Architects to join our team and designed the Living Cathedral. This would be a public meeting place, a sanctuary and a celebration of openness, nature and spirituality. We agreed upon a grid-shell type structure for the canopy with a free-flowing space underneath inhabited by parallel lines of indigenous NZ trees.