Design Competition Uses Sukkot to Shed Light on Affordable Housing Issue

In time to celebrate Sukkot, an International design competition with an A-list jury and entries from architectural firms as far as Korea, Cyprus and Mexico City is using creativity to underscore the need for more permanent, affordable housing in Toronto. The event will be taking place at Nathan Phillips Square on October 14 and 15 with an awards ceremony on the 15th at 12:15pm.

“Toronto needs a plan,” said Nancy Singer, Executive Director of the Kehilla Residential Programme and long-time advocate for affordable housing. “Until then, organizations like ours need to get creative in order to find interim solutions. In our case, we created a Rental Assistance Program funded by Sukkahville and the Toronto development community to help people who can’t afford to pay their rent.”

Currently, there is a six to 10 year wait to get into an affordable housing unit in Toronto. The poverty rate in the Jewish community continues to increase and is now over 12.9 per cent. Many spend between 50 to 70 per cent of their income on housing. After paying rent, money left over per day for the average food bank client is $5.83.

Sukkahville is an international design competition that challenges entrants to re-imagine the Sukkah, a temporary structure built during the Jewish festival of Sukkot to commemorate the 40 years that Jews spent wandering the desert. It is described as a symbolic wilderness shelter, symbolizing the frailty and transience of life. The competition challenges architects, designers, artists and students to propose an innovative Sukkah design that balances the dichotomies of new/old, open/closed, temporary/permanent. The constructed designs will be on display for visitors to see and experience.

The awards ceremony on the October 15 will include a keynote speech by Adam Vaughan, MP and Liberal Housing Critic.Competition Jurors include some of the most notable names in the industry for their skill and experience in the areas of planning and design. They include: Ken Greenberg, Principal of Greenberg Consultants; Shirley Blumberg, Founding partner of KPMG architects; Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University; Jennifer Keesmaat, City of Toronto’s Chief Planner; and Brigitte Shim, Principal at Shim-Sutcliffe Architects.

Kehilla Residential Programme, a beneficiary agency of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, is a non-profit housing agency that identifies and champions affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area and implements housing initiatives for the Jewish community. The agency organizes Sukkahville, now in its fourth year. The event helps create a conversation about affordable housing and raises public awareness through an interactive Sukkah exhibition as well as generates funds for its Rental Assistance Program to help those who need a home.


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