Chicago Sukkah Expo ‘16

Submission: July 01, 2016
Registration: May 01, 2016
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: 1st. Prize: $3,000, 2nd. Prize: $2,000, 3rd. Prize: $1,000
Type: Open


Chicago Sukkah Expo ’16 is a national design competition that challenges entrants to re-imagine the Sukkah. The sukkah, a temporary structure that is built during the Jewish festival of Sukkot commemorates the 40 years that Jews spent wandering the desert (Leviticus 23:42-43). The impermanence of the sukkah reminds us that many community members do not have adequate shelter and are threatened by the dangers of homelessness. We must devote attention and support those without a permanent home.

Invitations are extended to ALL architects, builders, artists, planners, interior designers, and students in related disciplines to design and build a sukkah. A jury will select eight winning design ideas which participants will develop into models that will create an exposition at Anshe Emet Synagogue in September & October 2016. Guests at an opening night premiere reception will choose the first, second and third place sukkot. The models will be auctioned off at this reception and net proceeds will benefit The ARK.


Chicago Sukkah Expo ’16 asks entrants to re-interpret the ancient phenomenon of the Sukkah and develop new methods of material practice and parametric design. Entrants will propose radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary setting. Eight finalists will be selected by a panel of celebrated architects, journalists, religious leaders and critics. The winning finalists will then build models which will be prominently displayed along with enlargements of the entry submission at Anshe Emet Synagogue during the months of September & October, 2016. Finalists will receive a $250 stipend to construct their models. Three structures will be selected based on public voting to receive recognition and prizes of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000.

The Constraints: What Makes a Sukkah?

  • The Sukkah must enclose a minimum area equal to 7 x 7 handbreadths, enough to hold a person’s head, most of their body, and a table. (1 handbreadth = 3.5 inches).
  • The Sukkah must be at least 10 handbreadths tall, but no taller than 20 cubits (1 cubit is approximately 21 inches).
  • The Sukkah must have three walls—two of the walls must be complete, but the third wall does not need to be complete.
  • When the 2 complete walls face each other, and an incomplete wall greater than 4 handbreadths is perpendicular, it must be within 3 handbreadths distance from one of the complete walls.
  • When the 2 complete walls form a corner, and an incomplete wall of at least one handbreadth is perpendicular to one of the complete walls, it must be within 3 handbreadths distance from one of the complete walls.
  • The base of the wall must be within 3 handbreadths of the ground; the top of the walls must be within 3 handbreadths of the roof but need not touch it directly, provided the walls sit directly below and parallel to the edge of the roof.
  • The Sukkah roof must be made of individual construction elements that are below four handbreadths in width.

Material Specifications

  • The Sukkah cannot reside under any overhanging surface, including any part of a tree.
  • The Sukkah, as defined by Talmudic law, may be built in a tree, like a tree house.
  • The Sukkah must have walls that remain unshaken by a standard continuous wind.
  • The Sukkah, as defined by Talmudic law, allows for the use of a whale to make the Sukkah’s walls. Use of whale to make Sukkah walls is unacceptable for our competition.
  • The Sukkah must have a roof made of schach: the leaves and/or branches of any tree or plant that has been removed from the ground.
  • The roof cannot be made of bundles of straw or sticks that are tied together, although untied straws or sticks may be okay.
  • The roof cannot be made of food.
  • The roof cannot be made of utensils or anything conventionally functional when it is not part of the Sukkah.
  • The Sukkah must draw the eyes up to its roof and to the sky above.
  • At night, one must be able to see the stars from within the Sukkah through the roof.
  • By day, one must have more shade than sun provided by the construct of the roof.

General Design Considerations

  1. If you stand in your sukkah during the day will there be more shade than sun?
  2. Are the walls more closed than open?
  3. Is the roof made out of natural material, which has been detached from the ground?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, your entry will be disqualified. The jury will be looking for entries which challenge our notions of what embodies a sukkah, while engaging traditional aspects of this building. The eight finalists will be selected on the basis of:

  • Creativity
  • Originality, coherence and clarity of the design
  • Constructability and interesting material choices


All participants must register online by May 1, 2016, 11:59 p.m. CST. Each submission must be e-mailed to mweisberg@ansheemet.org by July 1, 2016, 11:59 p.m. CST.  If you have any questions, please call Mimi Weisberg at 773-868-5123 or Sarah Patulo at 773-868-5152.

The challenge for Chicago Sukkah Expo ’16 participants is to build a sukkah that meets ancient legal criteria and also examines our connection to the environment. Submissions should include both written and visual material to clearly describe your concept.

  • One 11” x 17” PDF file with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI in a horizontal [Landscape] format, not to exceed 15 MB should include:
    • Concept Title
    • Written concept description in English not to exceed 500 words
    • Technical information- Plan, Elevation and Section at ¼”-1’scale
    • Visual information- Drawings, sketches, models, rendering or other visual information to explain your concept
    • List of materials which would be utilized if your concept is chosen
    • Order number MUST be included on email subject line as well as included on the top left corner on 11” x 17” sheet.

The eight finalists will have a 45” x 30″ x 21” deep area to display their concepts. Their enlarged [20”x30”] [30”x45”] entry sheet will be placed on the back wall of their display area. Models will be at a 1 ½” to 1’ scale.

To successfully submit your design:

  1. Register and pay the entry fee (Professional – $48 + processing fee, Student – $24 + processing fee) at www.ansheemet.org/registration AND complete the registration form by May 1, 2016
  2. You will receive a order number via email.
  3. Digitally submit your competition 11” x 17” by July 1, 2016 11:59 pm CST to Mimi Weisberg, mweisberg@ansheemet.org.

Entry grants permission to organizers to use submitted materials in promotion of the event. By entering the competition, participants agree that the entries belong to Anshe Emet Synagogue and to place their models in a silent auction with net proceeds to go to The ARK.
The eight winning entries must send or deliver their model to: Anshe Emet Synagogue, c/o Mimi Weisberg, 3751 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60613. Anshe Emet assumes no responsibility if entries are not mailed properly to avoid damage to entry.


All participants must register online by Monday, May 1, 2016, 11:59 pm CST. By completing the registration form, you are indicating your intent to e-mail your completed submission by the July 1, 2016, 11:59 p.m. CST. Refunds will not be given under any circumstances.


  • March 1, 2016 – Chicago Sukkah Expo ‘16 National Announcement is made and jury selection announced
  • May 1, 2016, 11:59 p.m. CST – Registration Deadline
  • July 1, 2016, 11:59 p.m. CST – Submission Deadline
  • July 10, 2016, 10:00 a.m. – Jury meets (Blum Community Hall, Anshe Emet Synagogue) and jury selection for model builds
  • July 15, 2016 – Finalists will be notified
  • September 1, 2016 – Deadline for model submissions
  • September 19, 2016 – Opening Night Premiere Party and Auction – Ballot for Community Members’ favorite and winner of favorite model will be announced
  • October 30, 2016 – Auction winners can pick up models at Anshe Emet Synagogue

Go to the competition’s website