The sukkah is a temporary dwelling, traditionally erected each fall in observance of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. in the fall of 2012 the Oregon Jewish Museum held a design competition; soliciting plans for interesting contemporary sukkahs built to talmudic specifications. I entered with my frequent collaborator, Blakely Dadson, and a few weeks later we were selected and constructing our Sukkah, Wilderness Cubed, in their parking lot.
This is the statement that accompanied our sukkah:
The sukkah is a structure that offered the Israelites protection from an often hostile wilderness. Thousands of years later we’re still building sukkot. But what happens when you no longer live in a wilderness? There’s something ironic about building a shelter in an already-sheltered backyard or parking lot.
We are interested in rediscovering the wilderness that was once so closely tied to the dwelling and exploring what it means to construct a sukkah in an urban environment. We've constructed the exterior of our sukkah with reclaimed wood and painted it to emphasize our metropolitan surroundings. Meanwhile, the interior has been turned into a wilderness complete with grass sod flooring and walls covered in creeping ivy and pine branches.
Thousands of years ago they were building shelters in the wilderness. We’ve flipped that inside-out and constructed wilderness in the middle of a sheltered parking lot.