Register: JUN/25/2018, Submit: JUN/25/2018, Eligibility: Architects, artists, makers, builders, design professionals; no professional qualification is required; individually, teams up to 4 members, Fee: 6 USD (MAY/01 – JUN/25/2018), Awards: Each of the 5-7 winners – 5,000 USD design stipend, 10,000 USD materials/construction budget
Since biblical times, the sukkah-a temporary shelter celebrating the harvest and commemorating the exodus from Egypt – has served as the symbolic centerpiece of the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Today, revisiting the ritual of building a sukkah offers the opportunity to reimagine historically rooted ways of making, while exploring themes of transience, hospitality, and community. Detroit, home to 1300 urban farms, is also the only UNESCO City of Design in the United States. Sukkah x Detroit celebrates both. By soliciting contemporary sukkah design proposals for Detroit’s Capitol Park, the competition looks to combine design, agriculture, and cultural programming for this first edition of the Sukkah x Detroit event.
The week-long Sukkah x Detroit celebration will take place on September 23-30, 2018, as an official event in Detroit’s Month of Design. Throughout the week, 5-7 sukkahs, selected through this competition, will be showcased in historic Capitol Park, located in downtown Detroit. Concurrently, a broad array of programming-farmers markets and pop-up dinners featuring local growers and chefs, educational events, and lectures by designers and architects-will activate the Sukkah x Detroit event.
A sukkah is a temporary structure constructed during Sukkot. While building a Sukkah is a Jewish practice with biblical roots, this design competition represents an opportunity for all to reimagine an ancient ritual, and to explore how contemporary variations of the type can sponsor lively activity.
Entries should challenge the conventional notion of a sukkah while satisfying the biblical requirements for the architectural typology. Finalists will be selected on the basis of:
- Originality, coherence, and clarity of the design
- Constructability/assembly logic: ease of assembly and disassembly on-site
- Performativity, inhabitability, and ability to host programming, including ease of entry and exit
Dimensions: A sukkah is meant to be a temporary dwelling that replaces one’s permanent home for seven days. Therefore, it must be constructed in a way that makes it a viable living space for that period. It must be:
- At least 2’ 11’’ high-you have to be able to sleep and eat in it
- No more than 32 feet high-not to be mistaken with a permanent dwelling
- At least 2’ wide and 2’ long; for building code purposes, max 120 square feet and for use by no more than 10 people.
The Walls: A sukkah must have at least 3 walls. However, if you have met the overall dimension requirements by having two walls that are at least 2’11’’ high and at least 2’ wide, the third wall can be composed as follows:
- If the two walls are perpendicular to each other, the third wall can consist of: a constructed wall at least 3.5” wide, 10.5’’ or less of empty space comprising a door between it and one of the other two walls.
- If the two walls are parallel, the third wall can consist of: a constructed wall at least 1’2” wide, 10.5” or less of empty space comprising a door between it and one of the other two walls.
- You have probably noticed that in both cases the requirement is that there is 10.5” or less of empty space between the third wall and one of the other walls. This measurement of “close enough” applies in two other cases:
- If the walls of the sukkah are hung from the roof, they need not reach the ground, provided they end within 10.5” of the ground.
- Further, if the walls are less than 10.5” from the ground, and less than 10.5” from the roof, they need only be slightly over 1’2”. Why? With this wall suspended in the middle, the total distance from the ground to the roof still equals 2’ 11.’’
The Partition: From the last example of a wall suspended between two empty spaces, we can infer this wall is more like a partition. This raises the question of how sturdy the wall must be. Maimonides, a Rabbi and Talmudic scholar, provides a useful standard: the partition must be made strong enough that it can withstand normal winds. Maimonides uses the example of a sukkah made between trees-one must fill the space between the branches such that these walls can withstand the wind.
The Roof: A sukkah must have a roof. This does not mean that the sukkah must be in the shape of a rectangle. It simply cannot be in the shape of a triangle. The following alternatives are acceptable:
- A structure with walls slanted inward, as long as it has a flat roof of at least 3.5” in width
- Lifting one side of the triangle at least 3.5” off the ground, such that that 3.5” becomes a “wall” and what was previously touching the ground becomes a slanted roof.
- A round sukkah, as long as a rectangle at least 2’ long, 2’ wide and 2’ 11’’ tall could fit within it.
The material which covers the roof of the sukkah is called s’chach. The s’chach reinforces the message that this is an agricultural holiday, and the sukkah is a temporary dwelling. The three requirements for the roof materials are that it must: 1) grow from the ground; 2) be detached from the ground; and 3) not be used for any purpose rather than specifically for s’chach after sukkah construction. Maimonides also notes that the s’chach should remain at least 2’11” off the ground. The s’chach need not touch the walls as long as it extends to within 10.5” of the walls. If a sukkah is created using any of the “alternative shapes” mentioned above, the whole structure must be made of materials kosher for s’chach.