Translucent concrete is a relatively new product (launch 2006) that offers plenty of scope for creating garden art in the contemporary garden. Kerry Jackson, a landscape designer who operates in Devon and Cornwall area of the UK, has been experimenting with the product. With his background in sculpture he see plenty of design potential for this material ‘As more and more people in Devon and Cornwall see the potential of translucent concrete within the garden and home, translucent concrete will become more and more visible’.
Translucent concrete allows light to be transmitted via optical fibres mixed into a fine concrete mix. The inventor of this technology is Hungarian architect Aron Losonczi who has recently released prefabricated blocks of the material capable of bearing loads. The technology allows light to be transmitted through walls – it appears to defy logic but it really does work.
Here is a little except from Losonczi’s website
Thousands of optical glass fibres form a matrix and run parallel to each other between the two main surfaces of each block. The proportion of the fibres is very small (4%) compared to the total volume of the blocks. Moreover, these fibres mingle in the concrete because of their insignificant size, and they become a structural component as a kind of modest aggregate. Therefore, the surface of the blocks remains homogeneous concrete. In theory, a wall structure built from light-transmitting concrete can be several meters thick, because the fibres work without almost any loss in light up until 20 meters. Load-bearing structures can be also built of these blocks, since glass fibres do not have a negative effect on the well-known high compressive strength value of concrete. The blocks can be produced in various sizes and with embedded heat-isolation.
Concrete is evolving. It is a beautiful material when used well. Its overuse and poor finishings have given it a bad name. As with all aspects of design the success of a great idea is reliant on excellent workmanship. Working with concrete is like making a cake, but harder. The ingredients need to be right and they need to be added at the right time. Plus the weather needs to behave – no raining. Oh and all that needs to coincide with the programming of building works. Get yourself a good concreter.