American University of Sharjah - Al Janah Pavilion is a thick, spatially dynamic composition, an iconic focal point for the whole community
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Al Janah Pavilion is a thick, spatially dynamic composition, an iconic focal point for the whole community

American University of Sharjah

Special Projects  /  Completed
American University of Sharjah
The Al Janah pavilion project was designed and developed by a small group of undergraduate architecture students during a year-long design studio and design practicum course in the Department of Architecture at American University of Sharjah. The design courses, led by Associate Professor Jason Carlow, investigated and developed thick building envelopes that are responsive to local climatic conditions of the Gulf region and inspired by vernacular architecture from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. A key research question in the studio sought to address how, through digitally-driven design and parametric thinking, the intelligence of climatically performative, vernacular architecture can be integrated into the design of a prototypical pavilion.

The project proposal was conceived from the investigation of cellular, subdivided Muqarnas ceiling vaults found in traditional Islamic architecture. Muqarnas, or honeycombed vaults are typically made from polychromic, ornamented plaster, suspended from the underside of a masonry structure, usually in a dome, or the squinch of a cupola, to create a three-dimensional, ornamental transition between the ceiling and the supporting walls of important buildings. In the development of the project students sought to free the geometrically inspired Muqurnas surface from a primary structural system and transform it into an elegant self-structural canopy. The project utilizes vernacular techniques for the extrusion of two-dimensional triangular patterns from Islamic architecture into complex three dimensional surfaces, while proposing innovative ideas for a shaped truss and space frame structural system.
The design of this contemporary interpretation combines traditional, Islamic geometry with parametric 3D modeling techniques to create a complex, shading pavilion. To replicate the concave, cellular vaults of Muqurnas, steel rectangular tubes were precisely rolled into curving arcs and welded together to form the trusses and beams. Unique sections of trusses and cross members were produced off-site in a factory, carefully labeled with part codes and transported to the site for assembly and construction.

Triangular fabric panels span between the inner and outer layers of the structure to create a thick, spatially dynamic composition which casts playful shadows as the sun moves across the sky. The structure provides an iconic focal point and a contemplative space for people to gather.

Credits

 Sharjah
 United Arab Emirates
 Arada Developments LLC
 01/2021
 130 mq
 American University of Sharjah
 Jason Carlow, Aya Rahmy, Shaden AL Kalouti ,Laura AlDhahi ,Mohammad Aslam, Rim Drak Sibai, Halah Fadhil, Akhila Velloorkunju, Rewan Shaaban, Aashika Shibu.
 Structurflex Middle East Contracting LLC
 Bahar Bacha, Emidio Piermarini
 Jason Carlow, Marian Misiak, Aya Rahmy

Curriculum

The Al Janah pavilion project was designed and developed by a small group of undergraduate architecture students during a year-long design studio and design practicum course in the Department of Architecture at American University of Sharjah. The design courses, led by Associate Professor Jason Carlow, investigated and developed thick building envelopes that are responsive to local climatic conditions of the Gulf region and inspired by vernacular architecture from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Department of Architecture at AUS is well known for its hands-on curriculum that provides a design education through diverse experiences including critical thinking, design processes and learning through making. The project was supported and built by Arada Developments LLC, a Sharjah based development company created to build communities that enrich, engage, and inspire their residents.

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