The “glass” of the future

light-transmitting-see-through-concrete

Blake Weaver: week 5

We often find great architectural innovation paired with greater lightness, both in weight and in sunshine.  There are benefits to this creation of bright indoor spaces and the symbolism that has been affiliated with it since the creation of light airy gothic spaces.  The materials that it replaced, the brick and stone masses, had benefits that glassy materials that had been lost and were replaced with expensive modifications and complex structural systems.  Light up translucent concrete has the potential to take the place of glass facades with the economic and energy efficiency of concrete facades.

light-transmitting-schottfibers

Concrete facades are traditionally seen as heavy and obtrusive which originally sparked the interest in their being replaced with windows over time.  Litracrete’s light transmitting concrete is a new type of concrete that is able to emit light combining thousands of optical fiber strands that act as aggregates when mixed with concrete.  The fibers then form a surface between the concrete block allowing connecting and direct light that can vary depending on the width of optical fibers that were included.

Though concrete materials may be resource intensive on the front end they also helps to cut down on post production energy use because of its properties as thermal energy storage and its ability to serve as both an aesthetic element as well as a structural one.  There is no data saying how these thermal properties are similar to traditional concrete but concrete by its nature already has excellent thermal mass storage.

One of the main problems with this material is that it isn’t yet mass producible.  While this is one of their main selling points as being customizable it also prohibits large scale implementation until further technologies are found that allows it to be more widely produced.  When more innovative stone materials like light transmitting concrete are able to be efficiently mass produced we will be able to achieve much greater energy retention in our built environments without sacrificing all the light that we have been working for centuries to achieve.

 

Source material:

Dornob.com (Photo 1)

Cement.org (Photo 2)

Zdnet.com

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One comment

  1. As a transparency material, transparent concrete have a great potential since it offer light while providing privacy for people. It blurred traditional typology of concrete and allows architects create a ambiguous experience.
    However, in my concern, transparent concrete also has its own limit, it is questionable that how far it can reach.
    First of all, transparent concrete does not contain rebar. Its structure cannot have vertical support otherwise it would run across glass fiber and influence its shape. This characteristic limited height of structure that is built by transparent concrete. It also means this type of concrete could not be applied on bearing walls.
    In addition, transparent concrete could not be constructed on site. It requires certain environment for producing, which only allows this type of concretes to be produced as precast boards in factories. This effects how they are installed in buildings later.
    Finally, form of transparent concrete is limited. Glass fiber in the center may influence flexibility of concrete.

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