NYC hosts world succa-building design competition

The project, Sukkah City, is a collection of active “reimaginings of the succa.”

NEW YORK – An international succa-building competition based in New York City has pitted famous and not-so-famous architects against one another in an attempt to create deliberately temporary structures of beauty, art and artifice.
The project, Sukkah City, is a collection of active “reimaginings of the succa.”
It started small, when Joshua Foer had the idea for the project while building his own succa, for the first time, last year.
Foer brought the idea to his friend Roger Bennett.
Bennett is founder of Reboot, a non-profit organization that tries to re-generate Jewish communities through film, discussion salons, a quarterly journal and music.
Nine months later, the project is almost complete, with stellar results. The competition attracted more than 600 entries from over 40 countries, Foer told The Jerusalem Post, including Egypt and Lebanon – and most entries were from non- Jews.
The competition’s judges, who include architectural luminaries, artists and critics, formed a 13-member jury and selected 12 finalists.
Pictures of the finalists’ submissions can be voted on via the Internet. Each finalist’s entry has been mostly constructed off-site in Brooklyn, and will be put on display in Union Square, on the northern edge of Greenwich Village and New York University, for two days before Succot begins, on Sunday and Monday.
The winner from the Internet vote will be named the People’s Choice on Monday, and will remain on display in Union Square until October 2.
Following the competition, the succot will all be auctioned off at shophousingworks.
com, with proceeds to fund local homelessness initiatives.
Entrants were required to conform to biblical restrictions on the construction of succot. Each entry had to be temporary, have at least two and a half walls, be large enough to hold a table and have a roof made of “shadeproviding organic materials through which one can see the stars,” or schach. The rules note, however, that “a deep dialogue of historical texts intricately refines and interprets these constraints.”
Further rules were enumerated on the website, including prescriptions as to handbreadths and New York City construction requirements (any structure larger than 19 feet by 8 feet is deemed nontemporary under municipal ordinance).
“The rules were the halachic laws of the succa,” Foer said. “But architects love constraints – they flourish under constraints! They appreciated the weirdness of the design constraints they had to work with,” said Foer.
The full article will appear in The Jerusalem Post’s Succot supplement on Wednesday.