Hands-on proposal for ChristChurch Cathedral rebuild

A North American architecture professor has come up with an innovative proposal to reinstate the ChristChurch Cathedral spire.

His idea would not only be cost effective, but it would also allow the community to physically help with the rebuild.

Marcus Brandt wants the people of Christchurch to pull together and raise a timber spire on top of the cathedral.

"They will be taking the fate of their cathedral into their own hands - literally."

Mr Brandt and his team have built a working scale spire, one-seventh the size of the original stone one that collapsed in the 2011 earthquake.

His concept uses traditional timber carpentry methods, relying on the power of 500 people to put it in place.

"It involves people on ropes and capstans, and in the course of two or three hours, the spire would emerge and be erected 60m high into the sky," ChristChurch Cathedral Group co-chairman Mark Belton says.

What to do with the cathedral has divided the city. Earlier this month, the Government proposed a $90 million offer to reinstate the damaged building. Funds to reinstate the steeple were not included in the offer.

Mr Brandt's plans include donations of timber from Timaru, and members of the AmericanTimber Framers Guild working for free. He estimates it will cost around $7 million and take two years to complete. That's cheaper and quicker than previous estimates.

"It's not about building a building," Mr Brandt says. "It's about healing and building a community."

Within hours of the February 2011 quake, Mr Brandt had drawn up rough plans to replace the spire. Since then he's spent two full years developing and designing the project.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel supports "the people's steeple".

"It's an extraordinary contribution that is being offered, and I hope people can see their way to taking up the very generous offer."

The Anglican Church will decide whether to accept the Government's offer or to build a new cathedral in September.

If it decides to continue with the Gothic building, Mr Brandt's team wants the spire to be the first part of the rebuild to go ahead, in the hope it will inspire residents and encourage donations for the rest of the project.