Congratulations to Fractured Bubble for being selected as the People’s Choice Sukkah of New York City
suckerPUNCH: describe your project.
henry GROSMAN + babak BRYAN: The sukkah is a bubble: ephemeral and transient. It separates inside from outside with a thin, permeable membrane. Outside is the world of everyday life. Inside one gathers with loved ones. Together you look out to the world to find it fresh again, transformed.
This sukkah is a bubble made of simple materials, plywood, marsh grass and twine. Its form is a sphere, fractured into three sections. Each section is rotated around a common datum. The structural grid and the rotation are all controlled parametrically.
Because of the spherical geometry, each of the sections is both wall and roof simultaneously. To make this kosher we provide three sections- (like walls) and we cover them with s’chach (like roofs). The visitor enters through the fractures.
The s’chach is made of phragmites, an invasive species that has taken over our wetlands. It grows fast and tall, and it is readily available for free. The phragmites attach loosely to the sukkah through randomly scattered holes in the ribs. They follow the curvature of the sections to create a crosshatched affect which provides shade from the sun. The density is calibrated such that one can still see stars at night.
The circles and the twine infill the surface of the sukkah. The twine creates another layer of crosshatch and the circles create the holes in the bubble. The parametric control of the structure allows the holes to frame selected views from any given site, to tailor the experience of looking out through the bubble.
The inspiration for our design came from a conversation that we had discussing the implications of a sukkah to be built in such a public place like union square. Unlike a sukkah that would be found in front of a temple or in one’s backyard a sukkah in union square would only allow for a brief respite. However in any situation a sukkah for us is understood as a place where one would be able to take a moment and step outside of their normal routines and pause with their loved ones to stop and reflect on their place in the world. As such, a sukkah becomes a place that separates inside from outside, a place where one can be within and look back out and see their place in the world. As a temporary structure it becomes an ephemeral place that for these moments provides a sanctuary. From this the idea of a bubble emerged. Then, we applied some of our thoughts of the Talmudic requirements and first thought of the provision where one is to see the stars at night. This act has the power to place us as humans in our context as individuals in this extensive universe. Unfortunately in NYC these stars cannot be seen like they are in the desert, but further reflection realized that gazing upon the wonder of new York has the same experience. Thus we created a Sukkah with apertures that allow one to see the city, allowing for a similar modern experience of this ancient wonderment. From there we continued to apply the laws and covered our bubble with schach, in our case, phragmites, an invasive marsh grass that grows abundantly in this region. Further applying the laws we realized that we would need to separate our sphere or bubble into sections to provide for three walls. The walls, each a section of the sphere are both wall and roof and are therefore all covered with the phragmites. Also allowing for this fracturing, creates an entrance as well as satisfying the laws of the wall.