Egyptian studio House designed a beautiful prefabricated Mashrabiya home called Oxygen Villa. Comprised of modular boxes with both vertical and horizontal screens, this solar-powered gem provides all of the natural lighting, ventilation and privacy the average Arab family needs. Combining cutting-edge technology such as photovoltaic (PV) glazing modules and decentralized wastewater treatment system with ancient passive design techniques, this young team has conquered the challenge of providing responsible modern housing in today’s resource-scarce context.
In vernacular Arabic architecture, the Mashrabiya serves several functions: these wooden screens provide shade against the sun and natural ventilation, privacy, which is especially fundamental to Arab culture, and shelter for the people on the street.
The cantilevering mashrabiya boxes not only allow three sides of it to catch the prevailing breeze, but it creates a kind of solar and rain protection to passersby on the street level. House incorporated all of these aspects of the vernacular into their contemporary modular house, and then added a few nifty extras.
The home has a steel structure and concrete floor slabs and then the multicolor prefabricated screens can be stacked inside according to a variety of different configurations. When the weather’s great, the vertical shades can open to permit daylighting and air to circulate through the home.
On a super sunny day, the horizontal screens will allow the same, except they provide protection against the sun. But on those days when the desert goes mad with dust and wind storms, the entire home can be shut down to prevent the elements from tearing the inside apart.
Notice that House retains the kind of luxury that Arab families typically look for in a house. There’s a large, comfortable living space with plenty of private spaces for both men and women. The reception area, where guests are welcomed, is especially well-attended.
Yet, with their newest concept the team from Egypt has drastically improved the home’s energy efficiency. Integrated PV modules provide about 25% of what the unit needs and the remaining energy will come from the main grid.
Nonetheless, through passive design and other interventions, including underfloor glass balls that collect thermal energy throughout the day to keep the house warm in the evenings, the designers have drastically slashed how much energy is required to power the house.
The modular design, meanwhile, reduces construction time and costs, along with waste, and also reduces the amount of carbon emissions released since most of the components can be constructed on site.
Finally, instead of relying on either non-existent or completely outdated wastewater treatment systems, House has designed a decentralized treatment system that treats the water from each unit on site with a three-step system and then recycles what water it can.