Next Sunday and Monday, Union Square will be Sukkah City, where 12 design contest winners will display their structures. Sukkahs, temporary dwellings built to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, are intended to represent the delicate living spaces Israelites inhabited during their 40 years of wandering the desert after the Exodus. Traditionally, the structures are rudimentary and simply built. These are a bit different.
The project “reimagines the Sukkah,” and brings the ancient tradition into a 21st-century world, from Jewish history into contemporary New York City. The structures look like an enlarged patch of yard, an intricate assemblage of popsicle sticks, a hollow ice cube, a cocoon, a hairball, a virus, and more — but, of course, in the most beautiful avant-garde manner possible — really.
These are the basic constraints via Sukkahcity.com:
The structure must be temporary, have at least two and a half walls, be big enough to contain a table, and have a roof made of shade-providing organic materials through which one can see the stars.
Yet a deep dialogue of historical texts intricately refines and interprets these constraints — arguing, for example, for a 27-x-27-x-38-inch minimum volume; for a maximum height of 30 feet; for walls that cannot sway more than one handbreadth; for a mineral and botanical menagerie of construction materials; and even, in one famous instance, whether it is kosher to adaptively reuse a recently deceased elephant as a wall. (It is.)
See some of the structures here, and elect your favorite as the “people’s choice” on New York Magazine’s website.
Go check them out — they’re on view September 19 and 20.