Sukkah 2015: Rubical Synthukkah

Date: 2015

Client: Beth Tzedec Congregation, Calgary

Primary Investigator: Jason Johnson

Collaborator: Shaul Osadchey

Project Budget: $6000

Project Design/Build Team: Ryan Cook, Meysam Ehsanian, Oguendo Obinna, Peyman Poostchi

Funding Agencies: Beth Tzedec Congregation

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Project Description: Each year since 2012 a team of students has worked with the Beth Tzedec Congregation to design and build a sukkah.  A sukkah is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. Students spend a semester designing an building the project in consultation with local Rabbi Shaul Osadchey.  These projects are part of a series of projects that seek out local communities interested in supporting design research in the area of computation and digital fabrication techniques.

RUBICAL SYNTHUKKAH is a transformative Sukkah that casts new light on the tradition of integrating nature with a temporary shelter for the Jewish festival of Sukkot. It embodies the significance of Judaic themes and ornaments such as the hexagram and the importance of kosher organics such as etrog, lulav, hadass, and aravah – the former is achieved primarily through a geometric exercise in rotation, while the latter is achieved through the use of synthetic material systems which capture and embed the geometric outlines of nature through light and texture.

The massing of the Sukkah is created by transforming two simple geometrical shapes: the triangle, which refers to the Star of David, and the hexagram, which has been abstracted in many traditional Sukkah designs. A hexagram is composed of two triangles with an angle of 60 degrees to each other. To combine these two shapes in the sukkah, a transformation is created as means of the quadrangle based on 60 degrees. This is the total angle which can be divided equally into four parts, with each being rotated an additional 15 degrees consecutively. Separately, these four rotational segments are representational of the etrog, lulav, hadass, and aravah. However, when composed into a whole mass which twists and forms a continuous loop, a broader relation reveals itself: highlighting a linear trend of history from the past to the present.

It is tradition for a Sukkah to cover the roof with natural materials, branches, and other organics which have been detached from the ground. RUBICAL SYNTHUKKAH explores this tradition through light, texture, and more specifically through techniques of folding, pinching, and twisting. The Sukkah uses a triple layer skin process that requires a layer of flexible 3mm plywood, a layer of detached branches, and a thin coating of white shrink wrap. The organics are placed underneath the shrink wrap and are then used as form guidelines. The surface is then further sculpted with the application of heat and finally by pinching, pulling, and twisting the material by hand. This results in a skin system that blurs the line between the natural and synthetic by creating a dizzying array of light and texture when illuminated from within.

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