At once ephemeral and eternal, the sukkah celebrates the bounty of the harvest while reminding us of the vulnerability of man in the face of nature’s awesome power. It is the quintessential symbol of Judaism—a mix of joy and solemn reflection, aspiration and struggle.
For Sukkah City, an international design competition dedicated to re-imagining this ancient structure, the sukkah is “about universal ideas of transience and permanence as expressed in architecture.” Contestants considered the “paradoxical effect of these constraints [while producing] a building that is…new and old, timely and timeless, mobile and stable, open and enclosed, homey and uncanny, comfortable and critical.”
Of the twelve finalists, one was invited “to build a sukkah for the pope” and it is now on display on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Rabbi Rachel Gartner, the university’s Jewish chaplaincy director, reached out to BanG Studio and invited them to share the experience with the university community.
BanG’s design captures the spirit and form of the traditional sukkah in unexpected ways. The braided rope walls, which recall the fringe of the tallit (the Jewish prayer shawl), are bound together with shiny metal washers that not only reflect light but also lend critical structural support (rather like prayer for the observant). The roof, covered in eucalyptus, myrtle and huckleberry, provides needed shade and the interior seating encourages a few minutes of rest and meditation. It is portable and easily re-assembled, the ideal dwelling for urban travelers both ancient and modern.
The sukkah will be stowed away at the end of the holiday (September 25) and rebuilt next year.
See it and be inspired.