East London Sukkah

Wayward Plants, OpenVizor : 2010


design consultation and construction leadership of temporary installation to engage local communities in faith inspired, harvest celebrating shelter in Spitalfields City Farm, sharing meals, talks, performances and dialogues on food, faith and community.

We devised a recyclable construction technique using free palettes from a local market. We created a workshop involving local people in creating the Sukkah's roof structure (twigs on ropes). 



Trailer: The East London Sukkah from openvizor on Vimeo.

For more details and project documentary visit Openvizor

The East London Sukkah
20-29 September 2010
Spitalfields City Farm
Buxton Street
London E1 5AR
United Kingdom

Sukkah: A temporary, organic and transient dwelling growing out of Jewish tradition to celebrate the harvest.

The Sukkah is a Jewish tradition, built during the festival of Sukkot, in September/October. While there are many rituals surrounding the festival, the building, and living in the Sukkah is the essence of Sukkot. Traditionally Jews eat all their meals and sleep in the Sukkah for the entire week, as well as inviting guests. Symbolically the Sukkah is linked to the tent of Abraham, the Biblical paradigm of hospitality, as well as to the chuppah, the Jewish wedding canopy.

In September 2010, we built a Sukkah in Spitalfields Farm, in East London with 150 children and activists from all faiths and backgrounds; temporary, organic and transient dwelling growing out of Jewish tradition to celebrate the harvest. A building across faiths and cultures, coming together under its shelter to share meals, talks, performances and dialogues on food, faith and community. The Sukkah programme included speakers, artists, religious teachers (of many faiths), activists, radicals and mischief-makers to explore and create and explore a temporary and ephemeral society to imagine and dream of alternative ways of living.

At the end of an extraordinary week, culminating in dancing to live Klezmer in pouring rain and mud, The East London Sukkah came to an end. Talks on veganism, squatting, anti-aviation activism, faith, migration and the French state, radical Judaism, films on UK eco-activism, the Yes Men and Punk Jews, music from Klezmer bands and Muslim poets and activists Poetic Pilgrimage, meals both real and conceptual, and an amazing number of diverse and wonderful participants.

The Sukkah was an experiment in public space - one that was defined, yet open. It was an experiment in religion, suggesting a form of religious practice that is neither fundamentalist, nor acquiesces to the agenda of the Liberal state. It was an experiment in creating dialogue that is respectful but not superficial.

To say that the Sukkah succeeded in all its aims would be trite - its aims were frequently utopian, and so the most it could do was provide a fleeting mirage of better and more durable ways of living. Having said that, those who participated in many programmes during the week testified that a heady mix had been created, and that the experience was a week of huge excitement, creativity, and joy.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

A huge thank you to Hackney’s amazing support of our East London Sukkah project situated in Tower Hamlet’s Spitalfields City farm. It is safe to say that without palettes from Dalston Market, branches and twigs from Springfield and Clissold Park and bark chip from Hackney’s trees, this project would have never been as fantastic as it was. We are especially grateful to Dave O’Toole from Hackney Waste, Darrel Abercrombie, head of Hackney parks and open spaces and Mark, Dean, Jim and Steve from the Hackney Tree Unit and their respective team members who are a pleasure to work with.


Camera by Theo Shaw
Music by The Merlin and Polina Shepherd Quartet and Poetic Pilgrimage
Sound Mix by Alejandro Uribe Holguín
Edited by Helena Escallón and Elisa Cepedal
Produced By Abbas Nokhasteh
Directed by Andrés Borda González