Mahmoud Bodo Rasch

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Large Retractable Umbrellas in front of the Prophet´s Holy Mosque in Medina

Mahmoud Bodo Rasch (born 12 May 1943) is a German architect who specializes in the construction of large convertible umbrellas and lightweight structures. He is founder and owner of SL Rasch GmbH Special and Lightweight Structures with branches in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Jeddah, Mecca and Medina.[1]


Mountain tents: prototypes in Muna, Saudi Arabia, 1981.

Mahmud Bodo Rasch’s father, Bodo Rasch (1903-1995), and uncle Heinz Rasch were figures within the international architectural avant-garde during the 1920s. His mother, Lilo Rasch-Naegele (1914-1978), was a painter and graphic designer, and his sister Aiga (1941-2009) was an illustrator and graphic designer. Following in his family’s artistic tradition, Mahmud Bodo Rasch in 1964 began studying for a degree in architecture at the University of Stuttgart, from which he was graduated in 1972. In 1967 and during the course of his studies, Mahmoud Bodo Rasch worked with Frei Otto at the Institut für leichte Flächentragwerke (Institute for Lightweight Structures) at the University of Stuttgart and, in 1969, at the Design and Development Bureau Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn.[2] Rasch led construction of the new institute building (the tensile structure had originally been developed for the German Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal) and assumed the role of project leader for the convertible umbrellas, which Frei Otto had designed and built for the 1971 Bundesgartenschau in Cologne. Several joint projects and a close friendship resulted from this partnership,[3] and to this day Frei Otto remains an advisor to Mahmud Bodo Rasch’s team.

In 1973, Bodo Rasch was guest lecturer at the School of Architecture in the University of Texas at Austin, in the United States.[4] In 1974 came the opportunity to take part in an urban development competition aimed at providing pilgrim accommodation for the Tent City in Tal Mina, Mecca. In the same year Bodo Rasch converted to Islam.

Fireproof Tents for the Muna Tent City, SA 1998

In 1975 Mahmoud Bodo Rasch and Sami Angawi founded the Hajj Research Center at the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 1980 his dissertation about the Tent Cities of Hajj was published in a series titled “Information of the Institute for Lightweight Structures (IL) University of Stuttgart, IL 29 The Tent Cities of the Hajj”.

In 1980, Mahmoud Bodo Rasch founded the architecture firm Rasch and Associates and then, in 1991, the special and lightweight construction firm SL GmbH, which since 1998 has operated under the title of SL Rasch GmbH Special and Lightweight Structures. In 1998 Rasch’s long-standing chief architect Jürgen Bradatsch became a partner in the architecture firm Rasch and Bradatsch.

Together with his team, Mahmoud Bodo Rasch pursues Frei Otto’s principles of lightweight construction on the basis of scientific research. His newly established team for Islamic design brings the minimalistic forms of lightweight construction together in harmony with the ornamentation of sacred buildings.[5]

Rasch’s many years of work in the Middle East and his realization of adaptable lightweight structures led to a series of large scale projects for the Holy Cities of Islam. In cooperation with many highly specialized businesses, Rasch and his team have developed a number of unusual projects such as the Makkah Clock Tower – the largest clock tower in the world. Other projects of this kind include the 250 convertible umbrellas that shade the piazza of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and protect pilgrims from sun and rain.

Projects (Selected)[edit]

Umbrellas on the Piazza of the Prophet´s Holy Mosque in Medina
  • 1972-80 Research and teaching in Germany, Italy, USA and Saudi Arabia
  • 1980 Dissertation “The Tent Cities of the Hajj”
  • 1981 Mountain tents for Muna Valley, Saudi Arabia. With Sami Angawi and Frei Otto
  • 1985 Scientific studies “Climatic research for convertible roofs in Saudi Arabia“
  • 1986 Scientific studies “Simulation and analysis of crowd movement during pilgrimage in the Holy Mosques in Saudi Arabia”
  • 1987 Prototypes for 5x5m solar-powered umbrellas
  • 1987 Toldo for the Quba Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia
  • 1988 Convertible roof for the open-air theater in Wiltz, Luxembourg
  • 1990 Tent structures for “Thuwal Palace” beach residence on the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia
  • 1991 27 sliding domes for the courtyards of the Prophet´s Holy Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia
Sliding Domes in the Prophet´s Holy Mosque, Medina, Interior
  • 1992 12 large convertible umbrellas (17x18m) in the two large courts of the Prophet´s Holy Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia [6]
  • 1992 Integrated lighting system for the Piazza of the Prophet´s Holy Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia
  • 1994 Convertible umbrellas for the Castle of Wasseralfingen, Germany
  • 1995 Domes for the Guekdepe Mosque, Turkmenistan,
  • 1996 Venice Biennale, Starwave tent and 5x5m umbrellas, Venice, Italy
  • 1996 “Jubilee ship”, pneumatic structure for the Academy of Arts, Berlin
  • 1997 Tents for beach palace in Obhur, Saudi Arabia
  • 1998 “Maqam Ibrahim“ shrine for the al-Haram Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  • 1999 Convertible tent for the Robinson Club Fuerteventura, Spain
  • 1999 Domes and lighting system for “Majid Wilayah Persekutuan”, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 1999 Domes for Putra Mosque, Putrajaya, Malaysia
  • 1999 Fireproof tents for the Muna Tent City, Saudi Arabia
  • 2000 Round tents for a showroom in Leonberg, Germany
  • 2000 Convertible umbrellas (16mx16m) in front of Al Hussein Mosque, Cairo, Egypt
Abraj Al Bait Towers in Mekka, Saudi Arabia
  • 2000 “Kaaba Stairs” movable stairs for the “Kaaba”, al-Haram Shareef Mosque, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  • 2000 Venezuela Pavilion Expo 2000, Hannover
  • 2001 Tanzbrunnen Cologne, renovation of the tent membrane
  • 2001 “Sail Island” sail structures on the Red Sea, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2002 Toldo, Villa d`Este, Rome, Italy
  • 2002 Convertible umbrellas, Hotel d´Angleterre, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2002 “Minbar”, movable minbar for al-Haram Shareef Mosque, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  • 2004 Convertible roof for castle ruins, Scherenburg, Germany
  • 2004 Khourais Road Retail Center, roof tent structure Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • 2004 Umbrella for the “Stuttgarter Schlossplatz”, design with Frei Otto
  • 2007 Tent structures and lighting system, Royal Terminal, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • 2007 Convertible umbrellas, Sandy Lane Hotel, Barbados
  • 2008 Convertible umbrellas (29x29m) Royal Terminal, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2009-2012 Tower tents on the Abraj Al Bait Towers, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
  • 2011 250 convertible umbrellas (26x26m) for the Prophet´s Holy Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia[7]
  • 2012 “ Royal Clock Tower”, clock and tower-top of the Abraj Al Bait Towers, Mecca, Saudi Arabia


  • 1981 Freunde der Universität Stuttgart (Friends of the University of Stuttgart)
  • 1992 Deutscher Werkbund Bayern (German Work Federation Bavaria)
  • 1993 Best Innovation, “International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction”, Houston, Texas
  • 1993 “Imam Bukhari Educational Complex”, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 1st prize in international competition


  • 1992 „Gestalt finden“ auf dem Weg zu einer Baukunst des Minimalen. Der Werkbund zeigt Frei Otto, Frei Otto zeigt Bodo Rasch, Villa Stuck, München[8]
  • 1995 „Umbrellas“ Exhibition in Parsons School of Design, New York, USA
  • 1996 „Umbrellas“ Ehibition, Sony Gallery, Cairo
  • 1996 „Gestalt finden“ auf dem Weg zu einer Baukunst des Minimalen, University of Weimar


  • IL 29 „ Tent Cities of the Hajj“, disssertation of Dr. Bodo Rasch
  • Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch: Gestalt finden - Auf dem Weg zu einer Baukunst des Minimalen, Edition Axel Menges, 1995
  • Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch: Finding Form - Towards an Architecture of the Minimal, Edition Axel Menges, 1995

Articles and Interviews[edit]


  • The Pedestrian Movement of Al Hajj, 1978, Film by Viscom and Hajj Research Center
  • Bodo Rasch – Architektur für Allah, Dokumentarfilm, 2004, SÜDWEST Fernsehen: 29. Januar 2004, 22.30 Uhr
  • The Makkah Clock Film,2012, SL Rasch


  1. ^ „Alles muss von innen kommen" - Architektur prägt die Lebensform - IZ im Gespräch mit dem Stuttgarter Architekten Dr. Rasch (in German)
  2. ^ The Stuttgart School of Building Design Archived 2014-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Nerdinger, Winfried: Frei Otto. Das Gesamtwerk: Leicht Bauen Natürlich Gestalten, 2005, ISBN 3-7643-7233-8
  4. ^ „Alles muss von innen kommen" - Architektur prägt die Lebensform - IZ im Gespräch mit dem Stuttgarter Architekten Dr. Rasch (in German)
  5. ^ ISLAM: Allahs Schattenmann, Der Spiegel, 15/2002
  6. ^ ISLAM: Allahs Schattenmann, Der Spiegel, 15/2002
  7. ^ Prophet's Mosque Courtyard Treatment Archived 2013-10-17 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Frei Otto, Bodo Rasch: Finding Form: Towards an Architecture of the Minimal, 1996, ISBN 3930698668

External links[edit]