Parametric Mashrabiya


Much of parametric design, as its word etymology suggests, is in search of valid parameters that lend meaning and evaluation to the infinite variations that can be produced. Often these parameters are found in the metric evaluation of different features in design and construction. As Moussavi observed, this is similar to architectural design: “Architecture needs mechanisms that allow it to become connected to culture… Architecture progresses through new concepts that connect with these forces (visible or invisible) manifesting itself in new aesthetic compositions and affects.” The traditions of the Mashrabiya unite a variety of functional, cultural and material conditions into an architectural manifestation of the boundaries between these dimensions. However, at the core of the design is an understanding that the human bodies act as a reference point for development of the product. The architecture protects the privacy of the Harim and enables the individual behind the screen to project themselves into exterior spaces.

Similar to the Tea Ceremony in Japan it is moored with cultural, spatial, material, procedural and philosophical considerations, the Mashrabiya cannot escape its several hundred year history. While a simplistic evaluation might suggest a construction that is meant to maintain a boundary, we see an advanced evolution that begins to embed other considerations over time including ventilation, daylighting, air cooling and humidity. Again similar to the Tea Ceremony, you become aware of yourself and your proximity to spaces and the spaces become aware of you.