Sukkah PDX

  • 2012 Oregon Jewish Museum Sukkah PDX Competition Winner
  • Designed in collaboration with Jeremy Hanson
  • Built in collaboration with Jeremy Hanson, Kagan Reardon, Erik Geschke, Elyssa Kelly, Patrick Noal, Jenni Nguyen, Rene Allen 
  • Portland, Oregon, USA

“Assistant Professor Nora Wendl and undergraduate architecture student Jeremy Hanson were among six winners of the SukkahPDX design/build competition hosted by the Oregon Jewish Museum, Oregon College of Arts and Crafts and the Pacific Northwest College of Art. During the week of “Sukkot,” September 30 - October 7, the parking lot of the Oregon Jewish Museum was transformed to accommodate a collection of six selected sukkahs created by artists from around the country.”

-        Press Release, Oregon Jewish Museum, September 2012

A temporary dwelling, the sukkah is traditionally erected each fall in observance of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. Intended to be built out of fragile, permeable materials, these shelters pose questions of protection and enclosure, transience, displacement, and domestic space that are as ancient as they are contemporary. The SukkahPDX competition encouraged designers to raise contemporary questions related to homelessness, food access, and ‘resource sustainability,’ which we interpreted as the sparing use of building materials.

In our proposal, we focused on an ancient text, the Zohar. In this document, the sukkah is described as a spiritual architecture—one that, when built properly, generates such an intense concentration of divine light that the presence of each of Judaism’s seven great leaders actually manifest there: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and King David leave Eden to partake in the divine light of the earthly Sukkot. Known collectively as the Ushpizin, Aramaic for “guests,” each leader corresponds to a sefirah, a fundamental spiritual pathway, through which the world is metaphysically nourished and perfected. In this design, the divine guests are present in the form of seven figures, each of which invites human inhabitation and provides space for a collective form of individual contemplation.