Tradition and transformation converge at Sukkahville’s pop-up design exhibition

Design innovation, tradition and community development will once again be celebrated at the third annual Sukkahville 2013 Design Competition. Returning to North York’s Mel Lastman Square on September 22-24 2013, six Sukkah designs selected by a distinguished jury will be constructed and showcased to the public. For three days, the Square will be transformed into a “village” of architectural creations while also highlighting the need for permanent affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area.

Building off the success from their two previous competitions, Sukkahville was founded by the Toronto-based Kehilla Residential Programme (KRP), a non-profit organization that provides low-income housing for the Jewish community in Toronto. KRP Executive Director, Nancy Singer, states that the Sukkahville Design Competition is a medium in which both designers and the community are actively united to celebrate design innovation and dwelling. More importantly, it also “encourages others to support the cause for permanent affordable housing.”

A Sukkah is the name of a symbolic wilderness shelter built during the Jewish festival of Sukkot. It symbolizes the frailty and transience of life but also highlights many conceptual themes surrounding the essential nature of dwelling. Designers from around the world were challenged to re-think the Sukkah while respecting the unique design constraints, such as “the roof must provide shade during daylight and sky views at night.” These design parameters originate from traditional Jewish law and govern the Sukkah’s existence.

Doubling the amount of submissions from the previous year, including many international entries, the jury had a very difficult time narrowing it down to only six finalists. Judging was accomplished in two phases, which included a vetting by a rabbinic committee to shortlist the candidates. The finalists representing Sukkahville 2013 are: Spiral Sukkah by Jason van der Burg, Jesse Hao, Duncan Sabiston, Dave Freeman and David Whyte of Toronto; Ombres Lumineuses by Katrina Novak and Duc Tran of Toronto; Re-Usekah by Andrea Swartz of Indianapolis, IN; Tsel Sukkah by Megan Rothermel Villejoin and Andre Villejoin of Crowley, LA; Nested Sukkah by Ryan Palider and Brian Schmidt of Chicago, IL; and God’s Eye by Chrystalla Koufopavlou and Christina Galanou of Cyprus.

Each team has been given a building stipend to construct and realize their proposals, which will be publicly exhibited from September 22-September 24, 2013. For many of the teams it is an opportunity to showcase their talent and establish themselves within the design community. Katrina Novak (Ombres Lumineuses), who is currently pursuing her Master of Architecture degree at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, describes the Sukkahville competition as “a rare opportunity to develop a project throughout all phases of design and construction.  I am looking forward to seeing how people will interact and engage with the Sukkah.”

The public is welcome to experience the Sukkahs and meet the design teams. The family-friendly event will also feature a hands-on build sukkah by Habitat for Humanity using Umbra donated products, live music by Klezconnection, an urban agriculture display and mobile food market by FoodShare. The award ceremony will take place from 2:00 to 4:30pm at Mel Lastman Square, located at 5100 Yonge Street in Toronto – rain or shine.

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