Sukkah: a new meeting-place for Melburnians

November 2, 2020 by  
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Sukkah, a new collaboration between the Jewish Museum of Australia and leading designer Zahava Elenberg, has today been unveiled at Melbourne’s Birrarung Marr.

Sukkah Photo: Marie-Luise Photographer

Representing a symbol of community, connection and reflection as the city’s restrictions lift, the striking prismatic structure forms a kaleidoscopic canopy and offers a place for visitors to rediscover the city anew.

Originally planned to open in time for the week-long Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot in early October but delayed by extensions in Melbourne’s lockdown, Sukkah is now unveiled as a new outdoor meeting place for Melburnians to gather, reconnect and reflect as the city begins to emerge from its long Covid winter.

“This beautiful site-specific installation reflects the long-held Jewish tradition of constructing temporary booths or huts in which to rejoice with family, friends and neighbours while giving thanks to the earth for its bounty,” said Jewish Museum of Australia director Jess Bram. “As Melbourne comes out of its long and challenging lockdown, Zahava’s inspiring sculpture feels like the perfect symbol of unity and hope that we’re proud to be offering our city.”

“As our team waits for the Jewish Museum’s spaces to re-open, we’re thrilled to be collaborating with the brilliant Zahava Elenberg and City of Melbourne to bring a little piece of our museum to Birrarung Marr.”

Co-founder of storied architecture firm Elenberg Fraser and founder of furniture fit-out company Move-in, Zahava has created the pop-up installation using the same components used for Clikclax – the innovative new mobile distancing solution that she launched earlier this year in response to Covid-19.

Initially conceived as a post-pandemic return solution for Move-in’s open-plan Melbourne office, Clikclax is the functional and flexible system for physical distancing for workplaces, public spaces and beyond. Offering an affectionate design nod to the cult 1970s children’s toy Playplax, Clikclax recently received an honourable mention in the annual Best of Product Awards for internationally renowned publication The Architect’s Newspaper (US).

As Zahava explains, “Sukkah is a temporary shelter in memory of the huts used by the Israelites as they wandered the Sinai Desert during their exodus from Egypt. It is a place of memory and empathy for those who are homeless and displaced.”

She continues: “The walls are the colours of the earth, desert and etrog (the fruit of the citron tree). The blue eaves remind us of the limitless sky and encourage us to look beyond adversity. The roof is clear to allow the stars to be seen at night, and is connected with shades of the hadas (the myrtle tree), aravah (the willow tree) and lulav (the palm frond). In this time of uncertainty and isolation, the Sukkah brings us together to reflect on humanity and what it means to be part of a community.”

Available to visit now as an outdoor-only meeting place, Sukkah will open up further as restrictions ease with visitors be able to enter and view the internal structure.

Sukkah will remain on Birrarung Marr until 13 December 2020

Report from Jadan Carroll 

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