Concrete Materiality: Unexpected Transparency
Apart from the works of Kahn and Hadid which celebrate the fluidity of concrete material, concrete ordinarily operates as a forgotten necessity. Sidewalks, bridges, and roadways depend on its durability and immense resistance to compression, but it usually receives little consideration for more artistic creations. Perhaps remembering the Brutalist movement, architects have almost abandoned concrete to favor the “lighter” appearance in materials such as glass and steel. Today we’d like to highlight the work being done with LiTraCon which seeks to reverse this trend with the harmonization of concrete and light, elevating the design possibilities of concrete to a whole new level.
A portmanteau of “Light Transmitting Concrete”, LiTraCon burst on to the scene in the past decade, the brainchild of architect Áron Losonczi. As a postgrad in 2001, Losonczi developed the idea of embedding fiber optic cables through concrete, giving it the ability to transmit the full color spectrum of light. Due to the small diameter of fiber optic cables this product becomes indistinguishable from regular concrete when the lighting affect isn’t apparent. Even more beneficial, the fibers actually act as an aggregate and allow it to keep its structural integrity; says Losonczi, “Glass fibres do not have a significant negative effect on the high compression strength of concrete.” The immensely positive responses, numerous awards, and features in publications have propelled Áron Losonczi to found a company based in his native Hungary called LiTraCon Bt. Since 2003, this invention has been integrated into buildings, monuments, homes, and public art works around the world as architects realize its potential and abilities.
Image credits: Litracon, Ardianto.net