A Contemporary Mashrabiya that Follows the Structure of Sand

Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university, launched the online exhibition of this year’s 85 graduating cohort of artists and designers. SCALE takes you through the work of Ahmed Nour, an MFA design student who is excited to practice architecture in Qatar.

The Algorithmic Mashrabiya by Ahmed Nour on display at the BFA + MFA online show at VCU Arts in Qatar.


Design for the aging, homeless, cultural conservation in Qatar, gender stereotyping, third culture kids, mental well-being, nationality and identity, social hierarchies, and accessories, are some of the themes that have been examined by the students of Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, MFA in Design, and Painting + Printmaking graduates.

In spite of challenges in tools and formats of education, VCUarts Qatar ensured that students had access to resources that would make the students use techniques like animation, textile design, silk printing, fabrication technology, and building code requirements in their final projects.

“Our first BFA + MFA online show last year resulted in even greater reach, allowing industry and media professionals to view and appreciate the talent and creativity at VCUarts Qatar,” said Amir Berbić, Dean of VCUarts Qatar.  “This year, we’re continuing in the same vein, and we’re thrilled to present the work of our graduating Class of 2021 to you. The projects on display show how this graduating group – despite the circumstance they were in – have ventured off the beaten track to explore areas as diverse as issues that affect humanity across the globe, to those that offer a quirky, lighter twist on the ordinary and every day.”

The Class of 2021 follows in the footsteps of alumni who are making their mark in the four corners of the globe. Some of them have been recognized through international awards – such as the International Property Awards, and the Red Dot Award – while others have had their work displayed at prestigious exhibitions and events in places such as Doha, Dubai, London, Berlin, Moscow, Paris, and Hong Kong. The online show is a collective presentation of the skills and talents of VCUarts Qatar’s Class of 2021, made up of 85 graduates.

We bring to you the work of students from the MFA programme in Design.

Ahmed Nour MFA in Design

Ahmed Nour has a Bachelors’s in Architecture from the American University in Cairo and now armed with the MFA in Design from VCUarts, he wishes to explore the design market in Doha.


What was the project concept? And how did you tackle it uniquely? What would be your projects’ USP?

The project concept is to create a new futuristic contemporary Mashrabiya inspired by natural elements that relate to Qatar. I was inspired by the irregularities and the organic flow of the cracked sand because of the sentimental value that the Arabs hold toward the sand. Through algorithmic design, I was able to create a Mashrabiya that is contemporary, irregular and resembles the cracked sand. Also, algorithms allow the designer to change the outcome by simply changing the parameters, creating a unique outcome for every user.

How differently would you have approached the project if it was not completed during a lockdown?

I would have created more Mashrabiyas to show the infinite outputs of Algorithmic design that is inspired by nature. In this case, I would have shown the different possible organic flows of pattern and openings sizes variations in the Mashrabiya.

How excited are you to be part of the professional race and be part of the design fraternity? What are your future plans and would Qatar be the place you would choose to work in?

I am an architect, and I want to work in Qatar. I am currently looking for a prestigious interior design company that I can be a part of, and have the opportunity to develop my dream contemporary Arabic designs.

Members of the public, as well as artists, designers, and industry professionals from across the globe, will now be able to view the creative output of Qatar’s latest generation of creatives, by accessing the link.