Each year,millions of pilgrims flock to the mosque in Medina alMunawwarah. In recent years, the traditional time of pilgrimage has been in the cooler fall and winter months. This time frame is changing gradually, however. According to the lunar calendar, the time of pilgrimage is returning to the extremely hot summer months, making a sunshade absolutely essential.Concept/Design
As general contractor, the Saudi Bin Ladin Group contracted the architectonic planning of this project to SL-Rasch GmbH in Leinfelden-Echterdingen (Germany). It was clear from the beginning that only PTFE fabric would be able to meet the exceptional situational demands. Other materials would not provide full protection from the aggressive UV radiation or satisfy the stringent standards required by the customer. In addition to UV-stability, the material had to have an extremely high tensile strength owing to wind load, maximum flexibility, colorfastness, fire resistance, as well as effective shading and appropriate light transmission. The extra tough PTFE fabric developed by Sefar especially for this huge project could not remain pure white owing to the intensity of the light since the strong transmission would have blinded people beneath the sunshade. For this reason, the customer chose a sand-colored fabric. In addition, oriental patterns made from blue PTFE-ribbons should be applied to the underside of the umbrella. With careful adjustment of the weaving machine, the consistent quality of the giant fabric surface was also guaranteed.
Since September 2010, a total of 250 umbrellas, each one with a surface area of 25.5 x 25.5 m (when open) and 15 meters high, have been installed in the area surrounding the mosque in Medina al-Munawwarah. These umbrellas work together to form a shaded area of 143’000 m2 – greater than the floor area of the mosque itself. When closed, each umbrella – including its working parts – is encased in a narrow, elegant column.