This project is a sub-set of "Digital Design & Production" course which was undertaken by a group of two.
The process of making both plexiglas and glass physical models
Muqarnas has kind of cellular structure consist of layers and each layer is made of elements. There are variety types of elements in Muqarnas structure. However, in general terms they are distinguished to intermediate elements and cells. The most important element in the body of Muqarnas is sort of vault shaped cell.
Dolat Abad Garden right beneath Yazd’s tallest Badgir, Iran. Via Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji
Muqarnas structure in Payam Caravanserai, East Azerbaijan, Iran. Via Sadeq-Photography
Muqarnas structure. Via Sharmiarchitect
Idea Developments
The potential usage of Muqarnas and its geometrical pattern in design from basic to advanced stage is very interesting. However, using glass as main material in the scale of a pavilion is challenging specially when it comes to flexibility, weight and panel joints.
Following there are some conceptual modeling and drawings which helped us to shape the idea.
Conceptual model inspired by Islamic Architecture
Left: Conceptual model
Right: Conceptual hand sketch
Muqarnas vault shaped cells are look like lozenge from front view in which we used to develop the beam structure. As each cell has depression into its volume, we divided each lozenge to two triangles and then folded them to a certain angle. To have a fixed angle between two triangles, we designed a glass beam to place it in the middle of triangles according to following drawings. Each glass panel is a part of the pattern too.
Muqarnas lozenge shape sketch
Process of designing beam system
Testing model made with laser cut plexiglass
To develop the pattern, we used a base geometrical pattern to extract other symmetrical patterns to use in our designs. Then we extract two patterns consist of variable sizes of triangles and trapezoidal. It was more sensible at first to use this kind of patterns to project Muqarnas cells and create the final shape.
Geometrical pattern analysis
The Iterations
As first step we drew our pattern in Rhino Grasshopper and used the advantage of changing the number of points and distances between them. This practice helped to prepare the pattern for our preferred shape. We tried different forms with different panels to get a wide range of iterations to choose. The dome like forms provide a greater stability but for our first attempt we decided to do a tower like shape to see what we will achieve.
The process of transforming pattern to shape using Rhino and Grasshopper
First design
As first step we designed a tower like shape to explore the beam system and its possibilities for our final design. It consists of four different size rows of “Glass Muqarnas” and is a sculpture to walk around and see all the different reflections and interesting shadows which the pattern projects on floor. The straight lines that radiating from the center are beams directions. All the beams in this design are located outside the shape.
Geometrical analysis of first model and the physical model which is made with laser cut plexiglass
Physical model shadow effect
Light reflection of plexiglass physical model
Adaptive joints 
The adaptive joints between glass panels are consist of metal pieces, which are bent in a certain angle and glued to the surface. In this way, glass panels never touch each other. The glass beam which connects two triangles, is attached with two metal profiles on both sides to keep the beam in a 90 degree angle. These beams carry all vertical forces to the ground, whereas the horizontal forces are hold by the metal joints of the glass triangles. With this system a large variety of symmetric forms can be achieved.
To build a real scale glass model, we used 4 units from the bottom side of our designed tower. When the installation was finished we added two additional metal joints on the side edges to keep the panels stable (Highlighted with a black square in the following detailed photo).
The explosion perspective of adaptive joints and a detailed pic of glass model
Glass model photos
Shadow effect and light reflection of the glass model
As the next step we tried to develop a more sophisticated design in which our system plays the key role. While understanding the system it became obvious, that strong curvature could be interesting for the final design. The idea was that the glass beams flip from inside to outside and back again, which also provides more stability for the structure and more flexibility for design. In this case the system of our joints decides over the shape and not the other way around. This new system facilitates the creation of non symmetric forms too. 
The following picture is the model which we made to show this idea. The new design drawings are also presented in which the glass beams are flipped from inside to outside..
Conceptual model to practice the idea of inside to outside beams
Perspective view of final design with beams inside and outside the surface
3D model model of final design with Rhino
M.Sc. Architectural course in Digital Design & ProductionEPFL | Spring 2012
Title: Glass Pavilion
Supervisor: Prof. Paul Ehret & Prof. Philipp Eversmann
Design, visuals and physical model: Aida Shafei & Julius Winklhofer
Conceptual idea: New Generation of Muqarnas
Software: Rhino and Grasshopper, Photoshop

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