Sukkah Design Build fuses Jewish holiday Sukkot with engineering, architecture

The start of the Jewish holiday Sukkot on Sunday marked the fifth annual Sukkah Design Build Competition on the Foote Green.

Six teams of architecture and engineering students spent weeks designing and building their Sukkah: small, temporary structures to celebrate the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The teams followed the biblical specifications for the building of the Sukkah: a roof made of organic material and three walls that do not sway from the wind. Structures must be outside and under the sky.

The first-place team, Six-Pointed Stars, excelled in their integration of old and new. Their Sukkah was equipped with walls that mimicked a billowing tent as well as a couch and light source designed to resembled a beacon in the desert. The Sukkah integrated nature and architecture naturally, bringing traditional Sukkot plants into the structure. Two other teams won prizes for their work.

University of Miami Hillel as well as the School of Architecture and the Lowe Art Museum sponsored the event. The competition also provided an opportunity for architecture students to obtain credit hours towards their architecture license.

“[The Sukkah Design Build Competition] is one of the one of the best programs in integrating cultures. It brings together engineering, architecture and Jewish culture,” said Samuel Wyner, one of the event’s organizers and participants.

The winner was chosen by a panel of judges, including architecture professors and Hillel’s in-house architect. The top three teams all received VIP passes to Miami’s premier art festival. The second-place team received a $100 Bank of America gift card in addition to the tickets. The first-place team won a $250 gift card.

“[The event] is the university’s only design build competition and the only opportunity for architecture and engineering to work together,” says Robyn Fisher, Hillel’s assistant director.

Organizers believe that the event grew this year and hope it can continue to gain more attention on campus.

“Last year people walked past and saw how cool it looked, and hopefully the same thing happens next year and we get even more,” said Sammy Schneider, an architecture student, event organizer and member of team Barkitecture.

As for whether or not the Six-Pointed Stars finish their Sukkah building careers on top, they haven’t decided. They are yet to decide if they will participate in next year’s competition.