Performance and Permeability: An investigation of the Mashrabiya for Use within the Gibson Desert
This study investigates a traditional Middle Eastern building element, the mashrabiya, and looks at the potential application of this device within the contemporary context of the Giles Weather Station in the Gibson Desert of Australia. The mashrabiya is a carved wooden screen used to control the fierce desert conditions of the Middle East. It created conditions of comfort within an extreme climate but is no longer prescribed due to the restrictive economic constraints involved with its construction. The research firstly considered the history of the mashrabiya and its various roles within the traditional Middle Eastern dwelling and then applied contemporary fabrication and design processes to its construction. The use of a CNC mill to construct the screen revealed new variables and opportunities for their manipulation, thereby providing for new design possibilities which transform the way in which it controls the desert conditions. The result was substantial improvements in cost, performance and versatility of the screen. Due to this program of research the mashrabiya was able to be applied to the Giles Weather Station in a much more ambitious manner than would otherwise have been possible. As a result of this the weather station aims to be architecturally unique, both in appearance and in functional performance.