Monday, September 20, 2010


On Union Square right now, Sukkah City, the dozen top submissions to a competition to reimagine the Sukkah (the ceremonial booth for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which this year runs from the 23rd to the 29th of this month). Many were striking, several were thought provoking, but one seemed to me clearly loveliest. Called Shim Sukkah, it constructed a hut of shims, the detritus of sawmills used to fill small gaps on construction sites. "The shim's typical function is to hide imperfections," the designers Timber Tinker explain. The result, a shelter whose walls - providing both shade and a view - can be pushed out to make of any part an opening, is simply gorgeous. It achieves all that a Sukkah must - a roof, made of things from the earth but no longer connected to the earth, providing shade by day but a view of stars by night, and at least two-and-a-half walls, easily assembled and disassembled. It's also a lovely evokation of the spirit of a holiday about temporary homelessness, of religious holidays as filling the gaps of our lives (or shall I say, making then whole) - and of the potential of the cast-offs of society to restore the whole. Truly a thing of beauty!

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