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DESIGNER
BODO RASCH | SL-RASCH GMBH
DATE
2011
LOCATION
Medina, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
TYPE
religious
USE
Large-scale umbrellas
Convertible Umbrellas for the outdoor areas in the Prophet's Mosque

These large-scale convertible umbrellas by Bodo Rasch aim to provide the huge number of pilgrims visiting Masjid Al-Nabawi (The Prophet’s Mosque) with protection from the prevailing harsh environmental conditions as well as with additional space for praying. A total of 260 umbrellas, each measuring 25.5mX25.5m in plan and 21.7m in height (when folded), were installed in the newly formed exterior areas covering approximately 170.000 sq.m. Early in the 1990’s Rasch designed a roof system of six convertible umbrellas for each of the Mosque’s two inner courtyards that proved to be very effective in dealing with the same design objectives. Their updated 2011 version employed the same bell-shaped, tension-suspension type of membrane, though larger in size, bearing additionally a lighting system within the pole to provide light to all those praying in the Mosque’s exterior yard during the night. Their spatial arrangement was planned to proportionally match the façade patterns. The umbrellas operate electronically, opening and closing in a smooth sequence, with a wind motor system guarding their function when wind speed exceeds 12m/sec. The membrane material is made from 100% PTFE (Teflon) translucent fabric, which was specifically customized for this project, ensuring flexibility, long-term weather and UV protection, fire resistance as well as dirt-repellent action. Characteristic motifs from the Islamic tradition color the membrane to further reinforce the umbrellas’ integration in this Holy landscape.

TRANSFORMABLE DESIGN FEATURES AT A GLANCE
PRINCIPLE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
folding
ACTUAL
folding
TYPE
PHENOMENOLOGICAL
tensile surfaces
ACTUAL
tensile surfaces + linear elements
SYSTEM
mechatronic
ELEMENTS
Roof/covering elements
Application Framework
Enclosed Space Open Space
Private Space Public Space
Passive Communication Active
Project Scale
Kinetic Elements Scale
Equipment
People
Intensity of Activity
Fluctuation of Intensity
Periodicity of Fluctuation
Design
New Design Intervention
Requires Support Self Supported
Simple Geometry Complex Geometry
Low Tech High Tech
Manual System Intelligent System
Surface Transformation
Volume Transformation
Morphological Variations
Modularity
Portability
Adaptability
Sustainability
Materials
Conventional Sophisticated
Elastic Rigid
Transparent Opaque
Warm Cold
Weight
Maintenance
Insulation
COST (estimation)

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Image source:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6: http://percicilan.wordpress.com/2011/05/page/2/

Further Reading:

http://www.sl-rasch.de/
http://www.makmax.com/news/2012/nw0214.html