Mashrabyia – cooling niche

Mashrabiya was, and still is, a popular construction element of the urban multi-storey houses in the Middle and the Middle east, or North Africa. It's about the niche in the first and upper floor of the house overlapping on the street, or to the internal courtyard. 

wooden mashrabiya in Cairo (Egypt)

In our conditions could be compared to the covered balcony. Mashrabyia serves to illuminate the room is located inside the house, provides undisturbed observation of tourism on the street, it serves as a sun visor, and at the same time directs the air to circulate. 

According to some sources, the niche was originally used to store water in pitchers and other containers. Thanks to the drafts in the niche of the water is kept cold. At the same time evaporation of water cooled the air in the room. Mashrabyia so elegantly fulfill multiple purposes.

Original mashrabyias were built of wood, often with gorgeous ornate carving (which is not exactly the case for the side image). Today it is possible to see the modern concept of different materials such as metal and concrete. The question is if the use of other materials than wood does not lose mašrabíje part of the value.

At the idea of mashrabyias of metal I can imagine that the surface of the walls is heated more intensively, than the wood trim. Today it is possible to see the modern elements of architecture, which design refer to mashrabyia. Unfortunately, often performs only an aesthetic role.


In the warmest period when the Sun is high above the horizon, turns out the room less direct sunlight. Also cross sections in front of a wooden wall (often beautifully ornamental) filtered direct rays.

Furthermore, some of the mashabyias equipped with additional cover plate, or more plates located in the front wall. These additional plates are again carved with smaller holes for the intersection of rays of light. Moreover, thanks to the displacement of the cut-outs compared to the frontal board cause multiple reflection of the light and the light penetrating the room is rather scattered (diffuse) than direct.

Still I remind evaporation effect of a clay pot placed in a niche. The water from the part evaporates from the open blood vessels. At the same time, some sources mention that it was used unglazed ceramics, which partially transmits water. The vessel had a wet surface and the entire surface was one big evaporizérem.


With rising temperatures, we time and at home forced to think more about efficient barriers against overheating of the rooms.

Inspirace z oblastí, kde již několik staletí „bojují“ s vysokými teplotami, suchem a mnoha slunečními dny, by mohla být užitečnou i pro nás středoevropany.

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