Sukkah City




The Maintenance of Fragility

 Our Sukkah is conceived as one of many; the many already realized, the many yet to exist. Disciplined by Rabbinical Law, Diasporic Judaism has produced a universe of Sukkahs, an incomplete, wandering community of emergent difference based on interpretation and circumstance. An act made ‘in haste’ yet still ritually re-enacted as a mnemonic improvisation, the Sukkah’s behavior remains in a feral state, loosening the parameters by offering a new, emergent informality. Parametric ‘interpretation’ generates productive difference, a latent joy within Diasporic Judaism, culled from years of interpretation.

 Anticipation and uncertainty allow us to be mathematical, sublime, gestural, and inflected as we (yet again) reinterpret the steady, historic accumulation of written and unwritten rules. It is within this grey area of interpretation, within the ‘maintenance of fragility’ that we find a productive place to exist.

 Dofen Akumah Sukkah: The Bent Wall

Our Sukkah is based on the principle of dofen akumah, allowing us to view the ceiling of the house as a part of the wall. Rabbeinu Nissim explains that we view the wall and the ceiling as one unit that is bent towards the schach. He contends that is principle is only applicable if the wall extends up to the ceiling; if there is a gap between the wall and the ceiling, one cannot apply dofen akumah.

The Bent Wall Sukkah is woven from reeds. The changing density of the weave allows us to move smoothly between the need for structural stability and openness to the sky. Densely woven walls grow upward from the earth, steadily loosening as they open to the sky, suggesting a provisional closure that anticipates the next interpretation.


About Russell Thomsen

A founding partner in the award winning Central Office of Architecture (COA, 1987-2008) and IDEA Office (2009-2014), Russell Thomsen formed RNThomsen Architecture in 2015. He has been a licensed architect since 1989. The office provides a full range of architectural services. In addition to directing the practice, Russell is also a senior design studio faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in downtown Los Angeles. The work of the office has been internationally recognized, exhibited and published. The office has received several awards including the Architectural League Prize and Emerging Voices, both from the Architectural League of New York, and the Best In American Architecture Award for the Saitama Residence.