Patterns, Light, and Shade

Published at Nexus Network Journal

University of Michigan


Description: In keeping with religious beliefs, Persian art avoided anthropomorphic forms, and instead expanded geometric explorations which resulted in an extraordinary, large, complex and elegant collection of periodic patterns.   There is a close connection between geometric patterns and the design of shading screens, as the two-dimensional patterns that were identified by color and material in tiling evolve into three-dimensional screens that function as daylight control systems. These are named as “shading screens”, “solar screens”, “Mashrabeya” or “Rawshan”.   This research reviews the mathematical rules behind constructing the patterns, and its application in shading screens. Then it studies the fourth dimension that the patterned screens bring to architectural spaces: the dynamic play of light and shade in the space. In this regard, it developes a a predictive model on how to translate complex patterns to simple patterns. This is done through computational simulation as well as experimental studies. The results provide a ground for expanding the research in simulation-based performance assessment for future designs of shading screens inspired by geometric patterns. 

Credits: Niloufar Emami, Harry Giles