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Beth Tzedec Brady Horner Jason Johnson Joshua Taron Kristen Forward Matthew Parker SSHRC

Sukkah No. 5: Subject to Change

Date: 2016
Client: Beth Tzedec Congregation
Principal Investigator(s): Joshua M. Taron, Jason S. Johnson
Project Budget: $5,000
Research Assistants/ Project Team: Kristen Forward, Brady Horner, Matthew Parker
Funding Agencies: Beth Tzedec Congregation, SSHRC

This 8’x8’x8’ digitally fabricated object is the fifth in a series of five sukkahs designed and built by the LID for Calgary’s Beth Tzedec Congregation. The three Hebrew characters for “sukkah” are projected onto each set of parallel planes of the sukkah, which, when modeled in three dimensions form a space for social gathering.

The sukkah is designed to sit in any one of three positions thus allowing for different orientations from year to year. Constructed of urethane –coated CNC milled EPS foam chunks bolted together at aluminum plates, the sukkah is light weight and can be easily transported and assembled by a team of 4-6 people. With that same group, assembly or disassembly can be achieved in about 20 minutes without the need for skilled labor. These aspects of the design improve the design’s discoverability and allowed the project to achieve a high degree of precision without the involvement of costly building contractors.


The Laboratory for Integrative Design (LID) embarked on a five year long Sukkah project in collaboration with the Beth Tzedec Congregation in 2012. This video captures our journey through the celebration of the Jewish holiday across these five years and across five LID designed and built community Sukkahs. These Sukkahs experimented with parametric design and rule-based systems exploring scale and material in a tangible way while still communicating a religious framework tied to celebration and gratitude.
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Beth Tzedec Jason Johnson Meysam Ehsanian Oguendo Obinna Peyman Poostchi Ryan Cook

Sukkah 2015: Rubical Synthukkah

Date: 2015
Client: Beth Tzedec Congregation, Calgary
Principal Investigator:
Jason S. Johnson
Collaborator: Shaul Osadchey
Project Budget: $6000
Project Design/Build Team: Ryan Cook, Meysam Ehsanian,
Oguendo Obinna, Peyman Poostchi
Funding Agencies: Beth Tzedec Congregation

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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Beth Tzedec Jason Johnson Kevin Spaans Kurtis Nishiyama Mahdiar Ghaffarian Michael Ting

Sukkah 2013:

Date: 2013
Client: Beth Tzedec Congregation, Calgary
Principal Investigator: Jason Johnson
Collaborator: Shaul Osadchey
Project Budget: $6000
Project Design/Build Team: Mahdiar Ghaffarian, Micheal Ting (Design & Fabrication) Kurtis Nishiyama, Kevin Spaans (Fabrication)
Funding Agencies: Beth Tzedec Congregation

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.

This proposal imagines the sukkah as a canyon in the desert and articulates the layering sandstone through a variably spaced series of horizontal planes.  The carved out space allows for inhabiting the sukkah which provides temporary shelter.

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Alanna LaRose Alyssa Haas Beth Tzedec Jason Johnson Nadine Vroom

Sukkah 2012: Soupkah

Date: 2012
Client: Beth Tzedec Congregation, Calgary
Principal Investigators: Jason Johnson, Catherine Hamel
Collaborator: Shaul Osadchey
Project Budget: $6000
Project Design/Build Team: Alyssa Haas, Alanna LaRose,
Nadine Vroom
Funding Agencies: Beth Tzedec Congregation
Publications: Avenue Magazine May 21. 2013

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.

“Collaborating with the Beth Tzedec Congregation and Rabbi Shaul Osadchey, students in the Masters of Architecture program worked to design a sukkah — a symbolic shelter in which Jews dwell and dine during the autumn harvest festival of Sukkot to represent the sheltering of the Israelites in the wilderness. Students designed 12 different sukkahs and one was selected for construction. The winning design, called the “soupka,” was created to incorporate the charitable aspect of the holiday and features round holes through which congregation members can deposit cans of soup and other foods to donate to charity. Local children enjoyed the participatory aspect of the design. “

Avenue Magazine May 21. 2013