Replay: Sukkah City

September 19, 2010 at 11:16 pm Leave a comment

So unless you’ve been living under a rock (or you don’t really follow architectural news), you probably have already heard about Sukkah City. From their website:

“Biblical in origin, the sukkah is an ephemeral, elemental shelter, erected for one week each fall, in which it is customary to share meals, entertain, sleep, and rejoice… ‘Sukkah City’ is an international design competition to re-imagine this ancient phenomenon, develop new methods of material practice and parametric design, and propose radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site.”

Maybe you read about the 12 finalists in NY Magazine. Or, you know, the New York Times, Dwell, Core77, Architizer, Architectural Record, or Metropolis. Or maybe you discovered the competition through its Wikipedia page, a bizarrely legit form of signifying cultural value.


photo of Union Square during the Sukkah City event / by Benjamin Norman for the New York Times

Months ago, I began dreaming up my own design-build concept for Sukkah City, which was to be built of discarded materials found throughout the New York City streets and would honor our city’s own nomadic population – the homeless. Unfortunately, I found myself without the extra time and the creative team to put the submission together. Fortunately, Rael San Frantello Architects created the incredibly Sukkah of Signs, part of the firm’s larger Homeless House Project. Signs were purchased from the homeless throughout the United States in order to create this inspiring structure.


Sukkah of the Signs by Rael San Frantello Architects / photo by Gisela Garrett

In the end, the people’s choice award went to the visually arresting (and spectacularly documented) Fractured Bubble. I should admit that after Sukkah of the Signs, this design by Babak Bryan & Henry Grosman was my favorite. It was also one of the few whose final version was extremely close to its initial design.


piece of final competition board and one of many in-process photos from FracturedBubble.com; photo of final installation by Flickr user xpressbus

While the temporary structures have been removed from Union Square as of September 22, a free exhibit of the competition’s designs continues until October 30, 2010 at the Center for Architecture.

September 19’s idea is engage in what Sukkah City co-creator Joshua Foer calls “perhaps the world’s oldest architectural conversation.” How would you imagine the historic sukkah in contemporary context?

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