Bush Mashrabiya


    ”The Desert holly has some special strategies for dealing with sunlight in the desert. It needs the sunlight to photosynthesis, but could get too much sun. The desert holly’s leaves are tilted at an high angle so it can gather the morning and evening sun. Then in the midday, when the sun is coming right down on it, it excretes salt out of the leaf surface. The excretion of the salt crumbles up the leaves a little bit. It’s folded and reduces the surface area thats getting sunlight. The other benefit is that the salt increases the reflectiveness, so then it’s reflecting the sun and not absorbing it at all in the midday heat. The strategy cools but also using salt, which could be toxic to other plants in the area as a resource.” 1



The sun shading attributes of the desert holly could be translated and used in architecture. Looking at the classical arabic mashrabiya, a multifunctional screen wall which controls daylight, air flow and ensures privacy.²

Shadow of a carved stone window of the tomb

The mashrabiyas are traditionally flat screens perforated with an islamic pattern, Often it gives a quite hard light, with high contrast. 


The intention is to use the structured chaos of the desert holly to make a three dimensional mashrabiya which would give a more diffused light. To create some small components which can be assembled in different ways, creating not only a straight wall but enclosed spaces as well.


3d3d007The following reference uses a method that could be relevant for the production method;


3D printed positive molds, plaster negative molds, ceramic cast components.

All Comps.ai

     “Together, the components feature over 1300 different connection combinations. Mathematical scripts are used as a sketch tool to explore experimental geometries that share synthetic relationships with networking models found in nature. Through subtle adjustments of mathematical and geometric parameters designed and organized in a set of simple components, it is possible to simulate and inhabit geometry as nature does, absent of representation and translation, in a constant formation, where geometry and matter are one–taking not one, but many forms and structures.” 



1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVq9GXJzrrE
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashrabiya 

3. http://www.data-clay.org/projects/PolyMorph/index.html

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