The primary intent of muqarnas is to populate the otherwise bare space that may appear between two parts of a structure, whether for load-bearing or purely decorative purposes. Overall, the muqarnas is a unique product of Islamic culture alongside forms such as calligraphy and may be considered defining for Islamic art. Researchers provide more information on the history and layout of muqarnas (Yaghan, 2001a; Yaghan, 2005b; Behrens Abouseif 1993). The structure mostly consists of horizontal and vertical sections, with the former arranged into orderly layers and stacked on top of each other. They are connected via so-called ‘layer lines’ that are joined to their base and top. As such, the top lines of the lower layer and the base lines of the upper one tend to be identical, but when they are separate, they are connected by ‘layer joints.’ Lastly, horizontal gaps between layer lines that are on the same height are occupied by roof patches. All of the above are arranged based on a two-dimensional pattern plan (2DPP) that defines the organization and limits of the parts. Overall, the muqarnas is a unique product of Islamic culture alongside forms such as calligraphy and may be considered defining for Islamic art. Researchers provide more information on the history and layout of muqarnas (Yaghan, 2001a; Yaghan, 2005b; Behrens Abouseif 1993).
As muqarnas are three-dimensional entities that are designed using a two-dimensional pattern plan, the translation of a concept into practical instructions can be a complicated and tedious process. Considerable time and experience are necessary to formulate a feasible formula, even if a detailed drawing is available. The use of specialized software can simplify the process considerably and potentially improve the quality of the result, though the planning and drafting remain time-consuming tasks.
The centerpieces of this chapter are three programs that achieved the goal of creating a three-dimensional model of a muqarnas. The toolkits embedded in these applications can process considerable parts of the work without user input, allowing the hypothetical architect to save time and effort. Furthermore, the software was intended to assist in the creation of new muqarnas patterns and the evolution of the form. It has succeeded at the task and presented new designs that deviate from established traditions.