'Sukkah' - An Ephemeral Hut with a View to the Stars

sukkahs on buildings

When I was a kid I lived for a few years in Borough Park, Brooklyn. 

Every autumn I would see little sheds attached to the residential buildings, sometimes as much as several stories above the sidewalk.

Adorned with leaves or branches, these were festive huts that my Jewish neighbors would eat their meals in for a week....

I went home to our small apartment and announced that I wanted to build a sukkah.....no luck.

brooklyn sukkah

The Jewish 'sukkah' is Biblical in origin. It is an ephemeral, elemental shelter, erected for one week each fall, in which it is customary to share meals, entertain, sleep, and rejoice.

The sukkah's function is to commemorate the temporary structures that the Israelites dwelled in during their exodus from Egypt, but the function is also to express universal ideas of transience and permanence  in architecture. 

click here for source

The sukkah .....calls on us to acknowledge the changing of the seasons, to reconnect with an agricultural past, and to take a moment to dwell on--and dwell in--impermanence." ~

The  building is one that is both new and ancient, timely and timeless, mobile and stable, open and enclosed.   There are certain design rules for a sukkah:
  • The structure must be temporary
  •  have at least two and a half walls
  •  be big enough to contain a table
  •  and have a roof made of shade-providing organic materials through which one can see the stars. 

click here for source of this 

In Encinitas, California there was a 2014 competition that called on designers to re-imagine this ancient phenomenon and propose radical ideas for building sukkahs in a contemporary vein. 

click here for info 

Here are the 3 winners...you can help build these on October 5 at The Ranch. 

Tension Release Sukkah

Rob Quigley, AIA, judge said of this sukkah:  “There is something magical about this space. It gives a quality of depth that provokes thought and makes you want to visit over and over again. The structure is contained and disciplined, yet fluid, organic and free. 

Varone sukkah

From the designers: “The seven sides of this sukkah structure represent the seven days of the week and the seven year cycle. Once inside the Sukkah, one’s awareness of the outside world is diminished. The base of the Sukkah structure tapers inwards to harvest one’s thoughts, wishes and concerns. The top tapers outwards to release them to the sky.”

3 petals sukkah

From Jessica Lee Vences, judge: “The use of three petals is very symbolic because the number three is significant in spirituality. The lightness of the structure contributes to the temporary feeling of the Sukkah. Humbleness of the materials, waterproof cardboard tubes, goes back to the original shelter in using what they had available.”

If you would like to help build these three in Encinitas go here: Sukkah Build 2014

sukkah build california


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