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Gimme shelter: Architects reimagine the sukkah

August 19, 2010 |  4:35 pm

Sukkah

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.

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