11 Mar 2004
Light transmitting concrete is set to go on sale later this year.
The days of dull, grey concrete could be about to end. A Hungarian architect has combined the world’s most popular building material with optical fiber from Schott to create a new type of concrete that transmits light.
A wall made of “LitraCon” allegedly has the strength of traditional concrete but thanks to an embedded array of glass fibers can display a view of the outside world, such as the silhouette of a tree, for example.
“Thousands of optical glass fibers form a matrix and run parallel to each other between the two main surfaces of every block,” explained its inventor Áron Losonczi. “Shadows on the lighter side will appear with sharp outlines on the darker one. Even the colours remain the same. This special effect creates the general impression that the thickness and weight of a concrete wall will disappear.”
The hope is that the new material will transform the interior appearance of concrete buildings by making them feel light and airy rather than dark and heavy.
Losonczi, a 27 year old architect from Csongrád recently came up with the idea while he was studying at the Royal University College of Fine Arts in Stockholm, Sweden. After demonstrating the material at design exhibitions all over Europe he has now formed a company to commercialize the concept.
His new company, also called LitraCon, is now optimizing its manufacturing methods and hopes to start selling prefabricated blocks of the material later this year.
“In theory, a wall structure built out of the light-transmitting concrete can be a couple of meters thick as the fibers work without any loss in light up to 20 m,” explained Losonczi. “Load-bearing structures can also be built from the blocks as glass fibers do not have a negative effect on the well-known high compressive strength of concrete. The blocks can be produced in various sizes with embedded heat isolation too.”