light-transmitting concrete

Light transmitting concrete is set to go on sale later this year:
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.

It's kind of neat, but I don't see how this is all that different from glass blocks, given that it only comes in pre-fab bricks. If you could pour it like concrete, that would be something.


31 Responses:

  1. jette says:

    The fact that it's translucent but you couldn't smash it with a rock like you could with glass brick makes me feel all funny inside - an odd sort of claustrophia. Being trapped in a box made of it would be my definition of hell.

    It's pretty, though.

  2. If it's as strong or near as strong as regular concrete it would be a hell of a lot stronger than glass brick.

    • perfect for hotter regions where you want to keep heat out and let light in. This would be more insulating than a window.

      • jabber says:

        But, it's bidirectional.

        • mattbot says:

          Keep in mind that architecture is fashion design for structures. There doesn't have to be a reason for it's use any more rational than it's novelty value.

          • jabber says:

            I can see the use of it for accent pieces, and am actually pretty surprised no one (AFAIK) has used anything similar at airports or in a museum or something of the sort by now. But, with the exception of safety and security, where it would allow you to look around a corner, it just seems so utterly pointless.

  3. giles says:

    Neat. 'Cause I need to move some sperm whales next weekend.

    • travisd says:

      No, that's Transparent Aluminum you're looking for.

      • ammonoid says:

        And they were humpback whales, not sperm whales. :P


        • giles says:

          Part of me is sad that I forgot which kind of whale it was.

          Part of me is even sadder that I've been beating myself up since I posted because... you know... the whale tank wasn't really made of transparent aluminum, was it? Scotty just traded the formula for a shitload of plexiglass.

          The saddest part of me knows that every time I allow these thoughts to cross my mind, one sexual encounter in my past is effectively negated.

          • jwz says:

            I'm happy to report that until just now, I had no fucking idea what you people were talking about.

            (I'm sad to report that I do now.)

          • wfaulk says:

            God, I can't believe I'm posting this.

            I believe that they traded the formula for the first batch. I believe that the plot point was that they needed transparent aluminum, but it hadn't been invented yet, so they had to get it invented so they could acquire some.

            • fantasygoat says:

              Actually, the first poster was right - they traded the formula, which would "take years to develop" (if you remember the dialogue), for really, really thick lexan.

              And I don't care if I appear geeky!

              • wfaulk says:

                I don't know if it makes me feel better or worse to be wrong.

                • fantasygoat says:

                  I think it's pretty sad to feel bad for liking something - because then you're playing into a bullshit popularity game where you let other people's opinions determine your own self-worth.

                  I liked that Star Trek movie and like I said, I couldn't care any less if someone thinks that's lame, and there's no need to defend it. In my opinion, the coolest people are the ones that do what they want and like what they want and don't give a fuck what someone else thinks about it.

                  • wfaulk says:

                    But the thing is that I don't particularly like this. I suppose I did when I was twelve, but I've well since grown out of my Star Trek IV phase. It's just one of the bits of useless ephemera that clutter my brain. And now it seems to have gotten corrupted. So I'm not sure if I'm glad that I'm no longer wasting capacity having an encyclopedic knowledge of marginal slapstick science fiction movies or if I'm upset that my brain has become susceptible to bitrot.

                    Even if I did still enjoy it, having precise recall would in no way affect my enjoyment of it. In fact, it might make repeated viewings less entertaining. As such, having the libretto in my head is never positive.

                    It's probably just all the LDS.

  4. cyeh says:

    If you could pour it like concrete, that would be something.

    The mafia would never go for it.

    "Look, there's Jimmy Hoffa right there, about 30 or so feet down."

  5. jkonrath says:

    It would be cool as hell if you could light this stuff with a bunch of LEDs or something from the back and have a concrete wall that is also an animated sign or a huge computer display. I don't know how it would compare from a price standpoint with that stuff they put on buildings in Times Square, but it would be completely hidden until you decided to use it. And probably seamless, too.

  6. marklyon says:

    What would be really cool would be if they could make these pre-fab panels with properly spaced fibers on one or both sides.

    Then, they could rout the fibers out at some point, where you could connect them with some cool lighting equipment.

    Instant light wall, without the worry of damage.

  7. ralesk says:

    Dear Hungarian people, please stop exploring your voyeuristic and exhibitionistic sexual fantasies.

    Wait... maybe I'm thinking too far into that!

  8. asan102 says:

    Technically, you could pour it, so long as you make sure to pour it really straight. Sounds like a job for concrete-smashing robots.

  9. greatbiggary says:

    The fibers act as collimaters for the light, which is what makes these blocks different from glass blocks. A shadow falling on a glass block would (aside from being refracted), continue on its path. Most shadows are from an above source, so a few feet into a glass wall, they've hit the ground, whereas these blocks would project the shadow on one side linearly to the other side, even if it was 40' thick. The shadow on one side is the shadow in reverse on the other. It isn't at all the same thing as a transparent wall, any more than a lightbulb is the same as a laser.

    What it makes me think of, though, is how building blocks with routed fibers built into them would make for an awesome Lego brick style of building. If you imagine each face has say, 100x200 distinct square regions on it that can conduct light to the other faces, it might be possible to create a stylistic wall that can route fiberoptic info all over an office building. If you wanna plug into it, just push a table up to the wall and position your light transceiver in front of the appropriate square on any brick. Naturally, Hermann Miller would create registration marks on each brick whereby special redundantly patented fabric-coated plates could be locked onto a panel to give you your choice of cutting-edge fiberoptic connection jacks. You'd naturally want some good encryption on the data...

  10. mavia says:

    Now DNA can have soundproofing and windows!

  11. sheilagh says:

    Why not recycle those miles and miles of wasted fiber optic cable? Lay down patterns of perpendicular to the plane of the wall you want, in the wooden frame where the concrete will go. Pour concrete. Voila! You've got nearly the same effect.

  12. I love some of the images that you post. Interesting journal to peruse. I added you to my friends list, even though I am not sure if we have much in common ; ).