OHR Sukkah was designed in response to a design competition by Sukkahville in Autumn of 2014 to design a Sukkah for the week long Jewish festival of Sukkot. For this competition, I asked two of my friends to join me and we spent approximately 3 weeks preparing our submission. Here’s the design brief from Sukkahville:
“A Sukkah is a temporary structure constructed for annual use during the week long Jewish festival of Sukkot. The original source for this tradition is Leviticus 23:42-43, where it is described as a reminder of the booths that the children of Israel dwelt in after God brought them out of their slavery in Egypt. Many later interpreters have understood the Sukkah as symbolizing the frailty and transience of life and shelter.
While building a Sukkah is a particular Jewish ritual observance, it represents many conceptual themes surrounding the essential nature of dwelling, which are universal in nature. Proposing an innovative Sukkah design which delicately balances the inherent dichotomies of new/old, open/closed, temporary/permanent is the challenge inherent in this competition. In other words, what should a contemporary Sukkah look like—while maintaining a diverse and rooted meaning of space and place.”
The footprint of the Sukkah must be no smaller than 27” x 27”, but no larger than 100 square feet.
The Sukkah may not be anchored to the site, but must be stabilized or weighed down without penetrating or damaging the hard surfaces or exceeding the maximum permitted footprint.
The height of the Sukkah must be taller than 38” high, and no taller than 30’-0”. Walls
The structure of the walls can be made from any kind of materials and can be spaced up to a maximum of one foot apart.
The sukkah must have at least two complete sides and part of a third side, at least 16” wide. There should be a sense of enclosure to the sukkah.
The bottom edge of the sides must be within 12” of the ground.
Walls must be sturdy enough to withstand the impact of ordinary winds.
The roof structure material must be constructed with a natural material.
In addition, the roof structure must be partially covered with a material that grows from the soil and is completely detached from the ground. (examples: leaves, branches, branches with leaves)
This roof design and its covering should be loose enough so that one can see the sky, yet thick enough so that it provides some protection from the elements. While innovative roof and wall shapes and geometries are encouraged, the sukkah must provide a sense of shelter and offer respite from the elements.
“Ohr (“light” in Hebrew: רוא ;) is a central Kabbalistic term in the Jewish mystical tradition. The analogy of physical light is used as a way of describing metaphysical Divine emanations.”
The Ohr Sukkah focuses on various conditions of light intensity and quality throughout the day to create environments that invoke particular experiences. Porous surfaces that diffuse light are formed by layering vertical strands of colored yarn. Occupants inhabiting the sukkah will feel refreshed through the refraction of bright morning light from the blue yarn; they will feel calm through the absorption of intense afternoon light from the purple yarn; they will feel content through the reflection of warm evening light from the red yarn.
Sustainability is achieved through the use of natural, recyclable materials such as cardboard tubes and wooden joints. Open ended hooks are placed in increments along each tube to allow for continuous weaving of a spool of yarn. This maintains whole spools for annual reuse upon disassembling the sukkah. Through the density of colored yarn, multiple colors of light is diffused inside of the Ohr Sukkah and changes with the movement of the sun. At different times of the day, the visitors’ experiences will be unique and memorable.