When best-selling author Joshua Foer (Moonwalking With Einstein) began to build his first sukkah—a small hut that Jews build and dwell in every fall for the holiday of Sukkot—he wanted to move beyond the generic plywood boxes and canvas tents that have become the unimaginative status quo. He discovered that while the bible outlines the basic parameters for what a sukkah should look like and how it should function, it leaves plenty of room for variation and interpretation. It is here Foer asks: what if contemporary architects and designers were challenged to design and construct twelve radical sukkahs? What would they come up with? Hence the design competition and exhibition known as “Sukkah City” was born.
In the vein of the Maysles Brothers documentation of architects Christo & Jean Claude, Sukkah City tracks the process of the competition and the minds behind it—from the start of jury day, which includes an all-star cast of architects, academics and critics (Thom Mayne, Paul Goldberger, Ron Arad) that debate the merits of the 600 submissions; to the construction, installation and exhibition of the twelve winning structures in New York City. The two-day exhibition drew a critical and popular response from some of the 200,000 attendees.
The film explores the artistic process of the architects, documenting how an ancient traditions can be reinvented for the 21st Century, and revealing the meaningful tale behind the innovative architecture.