« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Gimme shelter: Architects reimagine the sukkah

August 19, 2010 |  4:35 pm


Earlier this year came word from New York about one of the more intriguing architecture competitions to emerge in some time. Sukkah City asked architects to reimagine the sukkah, a temporary hut-like structure built in the fall to commemorate the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot.

Twelve finalists in the competition -- whose designs will go on display in Manhattan's Union Square Park on Sept. 19 and 20 -- were announced today, picked by a jury that included architect Thom Mayne, New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger and designer Ron Arad. Among the finalists is the New York firm Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu, which also won this year's MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program, as well as one Los Angeles architect, Volkan Alkanoglu. New Yorkers will vote on the completed designs and choose a single winner.

As the competition's background materials put it, "Ostensibly the sukkah's religious function is to commemorate the temporary structures that the Israelites lived in during their exodus from Egypt, but it is also about universal ideas of transience and permanence as expressed in architecture."

Given the fragile state of the economy and the growing prominence of temporary architecture of all kinds, the competition also seems timely in ways that have little to do with Jewish history.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Credit: Rendering of "Gathering," one of 12 finalists in the Sukkah City competition, by Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen.

Comments () | Archives (7)


"The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the ancient Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt."

All modern archeological investigations insist that the Jewish people did not have an Exodus from Egypt followed by years of wandering in the desert. Don't ask me, ask Christopher Hitchens in, "God is Not Great." As such, the fable should not be traded as honest goods in the article.

I do love the architecture. Keep up the good work.

Looks like a bait ball.

Looks like a bunch of wooden matchsticks with magnetic values. I wonder how it sheds water? Or if it does? Where north?

Interesting as some designs may be, in order to perform as a Succah, the building or structure must conform to specific standards, including proportions and visibility of the sky through the roof covering.

Chris, most don't think twice about referring to Jesus "Christ", even though there's no proof of the type you're looking for that Jesus is a "Messiah". We have no problem referring to the "Prophet" Mohammed though there is no proof beyond the "fables" in the Koran that he was a prophet. Similarly, we have no problem referring to politics and the ideals that are supposed to motivate it in the same breath, yet the rest of us seem to be able to see the organizing and inspirational value in such "fables" without sticking needles in the eyes of those who organize their lives around the values the fables teach. Even without the kind of evidence you're looking for to grant these "fables" "honest goods" status, seems to me just a sign of simple common decency and respect for the beliefs of others to not have to shout "liar" from the rooftops at every opportunity the way Hitchens and you have done.

Hey Chris, it's a little more professional to wait until all of the entries are released vs. promoting one since the winner will be picked by the public. I'm sure you have some connection with the team or else they are just shameless marketers. Either way, bad journalism and bad article.

John Smith: I have no ties to any of the teams in this competition. The organizers, when they announced the finalists, made only this single rendering available to the press. They -- not the team -- released it.


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.