Pillar of Cloud
Jon Rollins, Dallas, TX (GFF Architects)
Wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt, the children of Israel were accompanied at night by a pillar of fire and during the day by a pillar of cloud, visible manifestations of the presence and of the mystery of Adonai. The dual nature of these symbols is expressed in the design of the Pillar of Cloud sukkah.
The sukkah consists of two vertically tapered enclosing halves, separated by a cleft which accommodates the entrance, the schach open to the sky, and a communal dining table. Constructed of a lightweight wooden frame wrapped in taut-stretched translucent white fabric, the sukkah recalls both a desert tent and a cloud-shrouded place of meeting with the ineffable. The vertical proportions of the sukkah encourage the visitor to look heavenward, where a wood trellis above the table provides a combination of sun and shade.
The built-in benches and table promote two of the three primary activities of the sukkah: gathering of community and the sharing of a meal. Where all other materials are presented in their natural color, the table and its backdrop are rendered in blazing red: both a reference to the pillar of fire and a virtual campfire at the heart of the sukkah. The benches and table occupy half the floor area of the sukkah; closer to the entrance, open space provides for the third function, prayer, with room to wave the Lulav and Etrog in all six directions.