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Read here about the use of tensegrity structures in connection with holidays such as Christmas and Sukkoth (Tabernacles).


As tensegrity becomes more mainstream, it becomes associated with holiday events where tensegrity structures are used. This article collects examples of tensegrity structures whose designers or makers connect the tensegrity to a holiday tradition.

Christmas Holiday, Winter

Christmas is a widely observed annual cultural holiday, originally celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus. It is celebrated generally on December 25, closing the Christian Advent season and initiating the twelve days of Christmastide, which end after the twelfth night. Customs associated in various countries with Christmas include the display of various Christmas decorations, many of which are hung on a Christmas tree. The economic impact of Christmas gift-giving is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world. (Wikipedia article, [[1]]

Tensegrity structures sometimes feature in people's tree decorations or gift giving.

Tensecorations, Christmas Tensegrities by Erickson

Alejandro Erickson posted a recipe for making tensegirty christmas tree decorations. In his film on guerilla geometry, he creates and then tests these constructions by hanging them on a fir tree in a public part (see photo at the start of this post).

[[file:6 strut christmas decoration on tree from Alejandro Erickson video2.png|thumb|500px|none|Erickson decorating a fir tree with tensegrity Christmas decorations, or 'tensorections'. Still from video by Erickson."

[[file:vlcsnap-2014-10-07-08h46m41s216.png|thumb|500px|none|Erickson constructing a 6 strut Christmas tree decoration. Still from video by Erickson, posted to the Instructables site. "

Erickson's Instructable page:

Tabernacles (Sukkot) Holiday, Autumn

The sukka, a temporary outdoor dwelling, is constructed annually by practicing Jewish people during the Festival of Booths, or Tabernacles. An autumn celebration, the holiday and its dwelling have many religious and mystical associations. Celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October), it is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (shalosh regalim) that commemorate days when the Israelites made pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

One unusual aspect of the week-long festivity is dwelling--eating, studying, and sleeping--in a sukka, defined as a temporary edifice where you feel the wind and can view the stars through its shabby, temporary construction. This temporary dwelling, a sukka or booth, is a walled structure constructed of any material (wood, canvas, aluminum siding, sheets). Its walls can be free-standing or include the sides of a building or porch. Its roof must be of organic material, known as s'chach, such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm fronds. It is customary to decorate the interior of the sukkah with hanging decorations. This structure is used for dwelling and feasting during the holiday, intended to remind its inhabitants of the fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt following their redemption from slavery and before their being capable of settling cities in a nation of their own. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. A sukkah is also for the temporary dwelling in which agricultural workers would live during harvesting. (Wikipedia article,

Tensgrity is sometimes used to structure a booth. Note that such structures must meet both tensegrity and traditional Jewish requirements regarding the structure, number of walls and porosity of the roof. Tensegrity structures are also sometimes hung in the booths as decorations.

Lulav Hut Sukka 2014

Lulav Hut was a proposal for a sukkah shelter designed in collaboration with Keltie McLaren for the 2014 Sukkahville competition. Inspired by the three branches of the lulav and the urgency with which the original sukkah shelters were built, the proposal was for an efficient tensegrity structure of common lightweight materials that is quick and easy to assemble. Upon entering the hut through a zippered opening in its paper enclosure, participants are invited to rest at one of three small stools that employ the same structural principles as the shelter. At night, the lulav lights up from within and serves as a beacon. A lantern hung from the center of the hut illuminates and brings warmth to the translucent oiled paper covering of the shelter, while small punctures in the cardboard tubing, recalling knots in timber, glow brightly. The Lulav Hut is motivated by a desire to created a simple, effective, and inspiring shelter out of lightweight, off-the-shelf, recyclable materials. Lulav, a closed frond of the date palm tree, hadass (myrtle), aravah (willow), and etrog (citron).

The traditional Four Species used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, metaphorically expressed by the 3 strut tensegrity with central light source. By Max Yuristy.

Lulav Hut, a 3 strut tensegrity structure, elevation views. By Max Yuristy.

Lulav Hut rendered by Max Yuristy.

Annotated plan view of the Lulav Hut. By Max Yuristy.


Pillar of Fire Sukka 2010

Andrew Sternad and John Kleinschmidt proposed the tensegrity design below for a tensegrity mast. 3 strut modules are stacked, one atop the other, to form a mast of five modules.

The authors wrote: The structural system is inherently economical and achieves a height of 20 cubits with the absolute minimum of material. Additionally, the entire structure can be constructed horizontally on the ground and rotated up into position. It can also collapse into a single bundle with the removal of certain key components. The structure can be thought of as a stack of self-supporting modules, each made up of three rigid poles and a series of cables. The module resting on the ground uses perforated tubular steel poles (which contain LED strip lights and mounted spotlights) and steel cable. The modules above together represent the roof and use only organic materials: bamboo poles and hemp rope. Sheen nylon fabric stretches taut between selected facets of the structure. By day, the sukkah is a PILLAR OF CLOUD; by night, glowing from within, the sukkah is a PILLAR OF FIRE. Naturally drawing the eye skyward, the seemingly haphazard bamboo structural members appear to levitate over the sukkah. From within, these members coalesce into a "Star of David" as viewers look up to contemplate the sky.

Pillar of Fire Sukkah, by Sternad and Kleinschmidt.

In Tention Sukka 2010

In Tention was a Sukkah design submitted to the Sukkah City contest in New York City, 2010, by SO-IL. The creators wrote:

The sukkah is conceived as a simple kit-of-parts easily transported by a single person. Using the principles of tensegrity allows for a light weight structure that offers adequate space for rest, feast and contemplation. The net that wraps the structure creates a soft veil, transparent enough to create a sense of being. One enters the sukkah by lifting one corner of the net. At the top, the net dips down to become the carrier of branches and leaves offering shade and a natural touch. The seemingly magic organization of forces in space gives the sukkah a cosmic atmosphere.

The In Tention Sukkah is seen in Union Square, New York City, 2010, in this video frame. Video by Forward Magazine.
SO-IL Sukkah Design, 2010.

The Sukkah City Contest Site:

Links and references