Hackney Council is to build a block of flats in Clapton in accordance with Jewish Sabbath laws, as part of their regeneration programme for the area.
The new housing, which will be situated on Clapton Common, is part of the council’s Tower Court redevelopment. Although the flats are not specifically for Jewish families – they are available to anyone on the waiting list – the designers will ensure that every balcony has an unobstructed view of the sky.
This is essential for Jewish families during the feast of Sukkot, a festival which occurs five days after Yom Kippur. It is a week-long holiday which is celebrated by erecting a Sukkah, a hut built to provide shade and must sit beneath the open sky. The roof, or s’chach, must be covered with natural materials such as bamboo poles, thin wooden slats and evergreen branches.
Building a Sukkah can be difficult for Jews living in blocks of flats where balconies have been stacked one on top of another. To combat this, Hackney Council have requested that the architects design the building so that the balconies are organised so that each household may live and pray underneath the sky, in compliance with Sukkot traditions.
The redevelopment is part of the council’s Estate Regeneration Programme, and will see more than 130 new homes built in the area. More than half of the 3000 properties over 18 sites will be for shared ownership or social rent.
Mayor Philip Glanville said: “Regeneration is about more than just new bricks and mortar, and partnering with local residents and organisations like this helps make sure that the thousands of much-needed new homes we’re building are rooted in their community.”
The scheme also includes a new ambulance station for the volunteer paramedic organisation Hatzola. The charity will take up a lease of the ground and first floor in the development.
As the flats will also be available to non-Jewish families, the council and the architects have worked together to find a common ground between Jewish Haredi families and other large households.
EDIT: A representative from Hackney Council told ELL: “In short, the main design features to make the development suitable for Haredi families are balconies that have been designed to accomodate sukkots, chabbat compliant lifts and entrance doors, and kitchens that will accomodate a kosher arrangement.”
“Construction will start soon but it won’t be complete until 2020.”