Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christchurch Basilica earmarked as quake relic

The earthquake-ravaged Basilica Catholic Church is set to become Christchurch's first large-scale earthquake relic.

The Church is looking to conserve parts of the building's historical facade after the structure and foundations of the building were severely damaged in the Canterbury quakes.

The plans include saving two interior Oamaru stone walls to create an open air relic, while leftover stones would be incorporated into a replacement church.

Catholic Cathedral Board Chair Lance Ryan said the Church wanted to retain a part of Christchurch's history after so many historical buildings were destroyed.

"The plan that's gaining momentum is possibly to keep a proportion of the cathedral as a relic for Christchurch. Keeping the front and northwest side, retain it, and make it safe so that we can look at it going forward and use it," said Catholic Cathedral Board Chair Lance Ryan.

Extensive 3D modelling has revealed the extensive damage the earthquakes ravaged on the structure and foundations.

Engineers estimate restoring the entire Church would cost around $120 million. The Catholic Church are unable to afford the bill but hope the two interior walls they are planning to restore could be used as the basis of a future restoration project.
"Remember in Europe it does take 100, 200 years to build a cathedral so maybe that option could be explored in the future."

Campaigners fighting to save the nearby Christchurch Cathedral are commending the Catholic Church's decision to consider restoration.

They say it gives new impetus to their own fight as they continue to battle the Anglican Church over the future of the iconic Cathedral.

"It's a very good gesture...but in a way it puts more emphasis on saving the Anglican cathedral as the other iconic building, because the Basilica and the Cathedral in the square were the two,' said Greater Christchurch Buildings Trust spokesperson Jim Anderton.

The Catholic Church is finalising plans and will present them in the coming weeks.

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