Architectural Theory, Construction Materials, Design Guide, Sustainable Materials

4 Uses of Jali and What Materials to Use

If you want a passive solution that allows ample natural light and ventilation into a building’s interiors, jalis might be an effective solution. Jali patterns are also aesthetically appealing, contributing to the exterior looks of your design.

Jalis have a variety of applications. They can be used as:

  • Building facades
  • Partitions
  • Windows
  • Decorative Elements

Jalis can also be made out of several materials. 

Jalis, as an element of design, was very popular, especially in Indo-Islamic architecture. The screens usually had calligraphy and geometric patterns made of natural elements like vines, leaves and flowers. In the recent years, jali is not as widely used as it was during those days.

Types Of Jalis Based On Usage

1) Building facades

Façade Of The Brick Curtain House

Jali screens with geometric and ornamental patterns can be used as building facades. 

  • They allow natural light and air, while reducing sun and rain into the interiors.
  • It is a good passive solution for hotter climates.
  • It gives an aesthetic appearance.

2) Partitions

Jali Screens To Separate Spaces Without Walls

Jalis can also be used as partitions to divide spaces inside a building instead of walls.

  • Divides spaces without visually restricting it like a wall does.
  • Gives a feeling of openness especially in smaller building designs.

3) Windows

Jali Window

Jali windows were a common feature in islamic architecture.

  • It is used mostly for aesthetic purposes today as it compromises on privacy and security.

4) Decorative Element

Jali Decoration

Jalis can also be used as a purely decorative element for interior designs.

  • Jalis can be used on top of walls and boards.
  • They can also be utilised as cabinet doors and fancy headboards.

Types Of Jalis Based On Materials

Jalis can also be divided based on the materials used to make it. Back in the days, they were mostly made of wood and stone. In the recent years however, materials like PVC sheets and metals are also being used.

1) Brick

Brick Jali

Brick jalis are usually used as building facades for their aesthetic appearance. Additionally, they also enable an interesting play of light and shadow inside the building.

2) Wood

Wooden Jali

Wood jalis provide a very traditional and sleek look to the space. It is mostly used in the interiors as partitions or decorative elements rather than on the exterior.

3) Steel

Steel Jali

Steel jalis are a good option when the thickness needed is smaller. They can be treated to make it durable and resistant to rusting.

4) PVC Sheets

PVC Jali

Jalis made out of this material can have highly complicated and geometric patterns on them as they are easy to cut into. The finish is also good.

5) Stone

Stone Jali

Stone jalis provide a natural feel. They help in cooling and also require low maintenance. One disadvantage is that it is not as easy to cut into as compared to the other materials.

How Are Jalis Made

Unlike hundreds of years ago, when jali screens were carved inch by inch by hand, today they are mostly made in mass numbers in factories.

Plain boards are cut using the process of subtraction. The negative spaces are cut in such a way that they create geometric or organic patterns based on the requirements.

Brick Jalis

  • Brick jalis are arranged manually by skilled labourers based on the choices and preferences of the clients.

Wooden Jalis

  • Sometimes, wooden jalis are made manually by skilled craftsmen.
  • They can also be factory made.

PVC and Steel Jalis

  • Jali screens made from PVC and steel are usually factory made.

Although jalis are used rarely due to contributing to lack of privacy, they can be wonderful elements which can enhance the looks of your design if executed properly.

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