M.E.A.N. (Middle East Architecture Network) has designed 3D printed Majlis made from smooth 3D printed concrete walls in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in the year 2021. In UAE, a Majlis in a house is a space that is attached to the main living area and is used to serve guests, friends, and families. It is an essential part of the Emirati social life that serves as a space for socialization and to discuss daily affairs. A typical Majlis is a large space beautified with carpets on the floor and cushions against the wall for the comfort of the guests, and a stove to prepare coffee to serve them. Majlis also acts as a division between the visitors’ space and the private interiors.
But M.E.A.N.’s design team, Riyad Joucka, the principal architect, and Wael Nasrallah have used their cutting-edge computational design process to enhance the architectural solution. The team works to connect the designs with developing technologies. They have reimagined the Majlis for the Emirati housing through the 3D printing technology in concrete.
How Has M.E.A.N. Tried To Achieve It?
Keeping with the spatial requirements but going beyond the traditional design aspects, M.E.A.N. has created three design options, each providing a contemporary approach unique to the typology. With varying style and size, between 137 sq.m. to 240 sq.m., each Majlis has a lobby space to receive the guests, built-in seating areas, a small kitchen, and washrooms. Each option also provides the possibility to have it attached or detached from the main house.
Option 1 – Capsule Pod:
Accommodating twenty-five seats for guests, the Capsule Pod comprises two volumes – one as the main seating area, and the other for washrooms, including a buffer space. The main glazed façade appears welcoming to the visitors, allowing them to peep into the space, as a sign of welcome. The cylindrical curved volume appears visually equally dynamic and innovative from the outside as well as from the inside due to the slits.
These slits in between the smooth concrete-finish panels are glazed to allow for ample light to enter in, which would also create a dynamic play of light inside the space throughout the day. The concrete sections of the structure are prefabricated off-site, and then hoisted in place.
Option 2 – Fluid Space:
Giving a whole new meaning, the Fluid Space option is organic and unique in shape that would present the visitors with a new definition of Majlis. Replacing the originally proposed Men’s Majlis, this single space is designed as an extension to the existing house. So, it contains only the seating space and the kitchen, and the washrooms are from the existing plan already proposed.
Light pours down in the interior space through a cut-out in the roof in a fluid pattern, in the form of louvers, which would attract visitors’ attention towards it. The recessed seating on the floor would accommodate twenty-two guests. The fluid design makes the Majlis appear spacious both from the inside as well as outside. It would be 3D printed in two sections, one for the enclosing walls, and the other for the roof.
Option 3 – Folded Walls:
Folded Walls option has a warm, cozy, and contemporary interior space that accommodates eighteen guests. Apart from the seatings, kitchen, and washrooms, there is an additional roof-top space for extra seating and a green area. Textures and wall patterns visually divide the living areas with the buffer space and the washrooms.
The walls of the Majlis are printed in a smooth finish concrete, whereas the walls of the washrooms and buffer space are printed with undulations, i.e., a folded pattern in walls. The two areas are joined to each other by glazed walls, one serving as a door and the other as a window, which also lets in ample daylight in the space. The plan features a trapezoidal shape for more floor area.
These three options redefine the Majlis in terms of form, space, facilities, construction, and technology. While designing, the architectural expression to suit the social lifestyle, as well as the local architecture of the UAE, has been thoughtfully contemplated.
Using 3D Printing Over Traditional Construction
M.E.A.N. states that the 3D printing technology is more efficient with materials, labor cost and time, than the traditional construction methods which would also take months to get built. However, with 3D printing technology, the models can be constructed within weeks, though the costs would not be so different from the traditional construction expenses. Since the Middle East embraces technological innovations largely, there are various opportunities and advantages to using it in different typologies of architectural spaces.
M.E.A.N. has explored the 3D printing technology beyond boundaries and envisioned the traditional typology of Majlis in an effective and innovative way. These methods have allowed for a contemporary expression in the socio-cultural world, encouraging the traditions in a new modernized lifestyle of the Emiratis.