The site was completely unused for over forty years. Opened up (literally -- a panel of fencing was taken down) just a few years ago, activity has increased as the community gathers in the existing space to use its picnic tables, firepit with benches, and raised garden beds. Several fruit trees have also been planted.
The concept for this space utilizes combinations of mind, body, heart, and spirit to define the character of the different spaces. The most active space (body & heart) is closest to the education building, while the most reflective (mind & spirit) is farthest away and in the woods.
The design plan needed to maintain the site's ecology and beauty while increasing access and functionality. The central area, lumpy from construction fill, has been graded out to form a community lawn. Themed gardens surround this area, and connect to an orchard, native pollinator meadow, outdoor sanctuary, and a small trail network through the existing woods.
Inside, a green bamboo spire with six points around a central post references the seven dimensions of place - north, south, east, west, up, down, and the point of location. Cordage strung by tension forms the framework for both the roof and the vertical walls.
Similar to the traditional yurt structure, tension holds the sukkah together, creating the space within which holiness can be actualized into the world. This is the release of the shmittah year - framed by the structure of the six preceding years, released into the world in the seventh.
In Chinese gardens, the moongate acts as an open entry portal, either free-standing or built into a wall, into the garden.
Image: Pavi Designs
The moongate was designed and built to separate from the chuppah. Here it frames the wedding cake. It will eventually be placed in the couple's yard, where it can serve as the entry to their sukkah during the harvest festival of Sukkot, another time that Jews build symbolic shelters infused with meaning.
Image: Pavi Designs
Yoshi had the good fortune of designing the chuppah for his and Abby's traditional Jewish wedding. To honor his Chinese heritage, the chuppah incorporates a Chinese moongate at its front. The moongate is a classic feature that frames the entry to traditional Chinese gardens.
The moongate chuppah was masterfully fabricated and decorated from Yoshi's designs by Pavi Designs in Cleveland, OH.
"Behind the Fence"
Temple Beth Shalom
"Behind the fence" at Temple Beth Shalom, 1.5 acres of undeveloped natural land purchased in the 1960s with the lot that also includes the synagogue, has largely retained its ecological diversity and beauty. Mitsui Design piloted its community design frameworks through a weekend-long series of learning sessions, presentations, and community design workshops, that developed into the conceptual design plan shown here.
Leichtag Foundation National Sukkah Design Competition
Designed around the competition theme of Shmittah, the sabbatical year, this sukkah (temporary shelter) reflects the dynamic between tension and release central to the Jewish experience. An impermanent shelter that both shades from the sun yet allows us to see the stars and feel the rain, the sukkah asks us to physically experience this liminal state of vulnerability. Shaped after the letter Tet, its 36 bamboo posts reflect both a complete cycle and the numerical for double-"Chai," the Hebrew word for life.