Shelter from the (urban) storm


Some strange-looking sukkahs are set to go up in Manhattan’s Union Square Park on Sept. 19.

They’re the 12 finalists in Sukkah City: New York City, an architectural competition to fashion “radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site.”

Here’s what the LA Times has to say:

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.

Folks can vote online for their favorite, which will be constructed and will stand in the park for the weeklong Sukkot holiday. Above is pictured "Repetition Meets Difference/Stability Meets Volatileness" by Matthias Karch, one of the 12 finalists (photo courtesy of Sukkah City).

The competition’s website lays out the rules for a sukkah, per Jewish tradition. In addition to the usual—four walls, a roof you can see through—they’ve uncovered some Talmudic gems such as a sukkah may be built on top of a camel, and  a whale or an elephant may be used for one wall.

Let’s hope that’s not part of the winning design. Could get ripe after awhile.


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