TranslucentConcrete by Andreas Bittis

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Andreas Bittis has re-launched TranslucentConcrete - load-bearing concrete containing optical fibres that means you can see through it. A bit.

Update 20/01/08: see today's story on Litracon light-transmitting concrete

Bittis sent us the following information:

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TranslucentConcrete is a combination of optical fibres and fine concrete. Thousands of fibres run side by side transmitting light between the two surfaces of each element. Because of their small size the fibres blend into concrete becoming a component of the material like small pieces of ballast. In this manner, the result is not only having the two materials mixed - glass in concrete - but a third, new material, which is homogeneous in its inner structure and on its main surfaces as well.

In theory, a wall structure created out of TranslucentConcrete blocks can be a couple of meters thick as the fibres work almost without any loss in light up till 20 meters! Moreover, the blocks are load-bearing and provide the same effect with both natural and artificial light. Glass fibres lead light by points between the wall-surfaces. Shadows on the lighter side will appear with sharp outlines on the darker one. Even the colours remain the same! Such a wall with glass fibre-pixels acts as if scanner and screen are united. This special effect creates the general impression that thickness and weight of this concrete wall disappear.

TranslucentConcrete blocks are produced depending on the aesthetical wishes and structural needs of the architects project. Basically all sizes of pre-cast concrete are possible: from small bricks, to façade plates or passable paving stones, all illuminated from beneath. Since the amount of optical fibre is only 4%, TranslucentConcrete blocks have the same technical data as the concrete used for them. The same flexibility occurs with the fibres: Right now the diameter of the fibre can be chosen from 2micro- to 2 millimetres. And also the technique of making TranslucentConcrete blocks can differ according to the needs of the project: from a slight "diffuse" aesthetic to a certain grid or even a logo.

Moreover TranslucentConcrete is a high density concrete – according to the extremely fine diameter of the fibres the other aggregates need to be chosen carefully. TranslucentConcrete elements are joined together through splicing or agglutinating or in conjunction with any common framework.

Talented architects and engineers should feel challenged to create structures of extraordinary beauty and innovation. TranslucentConcrete is the first step to what might become the building material of the future.

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Posted by Rose Etherington

  • Nuno

    Amazing.

  • Crorks

    I think this will create some fantastic feature walls and even floor plates if used carefully… interesting idea.

  • http://www.litracon.hu MBreuer

    The inventor of the origonal translucent concrete was the Hungarian architect call Aron Losonczi http://www.litracon.hu, who made this project at 2002 in Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan Stockholm. The LitraCon was a cover story in the Domus http://www.litracon.hu/publications.php and many other magazin published. The LitraCon won the Red Dot Design Award in 2005.

  • http://mysticgringo.blogspot.com Russ

    This is pretty cool… I wonder how they keep the fibers aligned during the pour. Probably does a real good job of showing where your rebar is placed… which it doesn’t look like they used any.

    • Sam Kee

      I am curious about this too, they must have some means of pulling and tightening the fibres in order to align them. Anyone knows how they do it?

  • Donald S. Spitzer, P

    Glass is potentially reactive with the alkalies in Portland Cement (Alkali-silica reaction -ASR), which can contribute to long term durability concerns. Has this been considered?

  • bioz

    Litracon, said it all before

  • LUC

    GREAT IDEA!! THE PERSON WHO THOUGHT OF THIS MUST BE A SUPER SMART PERSON. YOU COULD USE IT FOR COUNTER TOPS AND ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO FIND THINGS IS LOOK THROUGH THE COUNTER, INDTEAD OF OPENING AND CLOSING 5 MILLION DRAWERS.

  • tonks

    This is called ‘theft’ in the better parts of Europe, not ‘invention’. Herr Bittis, who was originally the German sales-advisor of LitraCon, stole the idea of translucent concrete and now presents it as made by himself. A shining example: by clicking on http://www.litracon.com, the former URL of LitraCon, you reach the homepage of Bittis’ TranslucentConcrete, because Bittis ‘recycled’ the page after that the original inventor, Lossonczy created a new website, http://www.litracon.hu.
    There are two more amazing things, anyway. For the first, that Bittis found a firm, HeidelbergCement, which gave its name for this dirty business. And the second is, that a magazine of such hugh standard as dezeen, can publish this infos without controlling their origins.

  • http://www.litracon.hu Áron Losonczi

    Dear All!

    I am Áron Losonczi, the inventor of Litracon – Light-Transmitting Concrete. I invented this material in 2001. I filed my patent in 2002. Litracon is already patent protected Germany where the above mentioned “invention” is being advertised. ‘Litracon’ is a registered communitiy trademark.
    I would like to inform you until now I have not give a license to anyone to produce or sell this material. Please, draw your conclusion…

    For more info Litracon, please, visit our web: http://www.litracon.hu

  • K. Rimane

    very nice effect. great work.

  • http://www.cafetableaux.com j

    pwnt!

  • roadkill

    it is not concrete and it is not translucent… and it is not original either.

  • adalia

    unbelievable

  • Serena Trab

    Thanks Tonks and Áron Losonczi for the precious information about this project (well…thanks Losonczi for the project!!!).
    Anyways, I perfectly remember the cover story in the Domus of many years ago (maybe 3 years ago…but now I can’t exactly recall the issue) and I was fascinated by LitraCon (I still am, of course)!
    By the way, I definitely agree with tonks when he says that it’s absourd “that a magazine of such high standard as dezeen, can publish this infos without controlling their origins”.
    And it’s kinda shame that the German sales-advisor of LitraCon stole the idea.
    What a sad World.

  • P. Jay

    It's right up there with silent Velcro (if you don't know the reference, see the movie "Garden State").

  • Brandon

    Fibre optics are expensive and so is shipping precast blocks of concrete.

  • http://www.andreasbittis.de andreas bittis

    i do not want to argue with anyone – but as aron said … draw your conclusions …

    even the romans started to use horse hair (natural fibres!) as reinvorcement … we know at least since the 50ies that there is something like textile concrete … architects like bill price, will wittig, francesco passaniti, sensitile, and others started AND published their translucent concretes – all with optical fibres – long before aron did! … and there are patents too … besides the layer technique of aron’s hand made translucent stones is known latest since the 90ies of the 19th century!! … there’s no concrete research institut in the world that would not use optical fibres to measure the concrete’s strength in the way aron has received his patent … so don’t argue about what is stand of the art and who started first or second or …

    the thing with HeidelbergCement (“dirty business”) is simply a lie! it was aron himself who had negotations with Heidelberg and naivly enough told them anything they wanted to know! that was after aron and me had split. why they did not get along, ask them … but don’t blame me for that!

    and on the other hand the effect of light transmission was the aim of schott when they “invented” the optical fibre … that’s only the material issue …

    does anyone of you fellows (tonks!) really KNOW who “invented” LiTraCon – not the material but the brand? who told the world that there is translucent concrete? i never have been a “sales-advisor” to anyone … and i never said that i was or that i am THE inventor of translucent concrete … just ask people, read the articles i wrote and commissioned – start with domus magazine if you like and ask them who contacted them first and how they got to know it … ask the national building museum in washington where liquid stone was initiated …

    the world is even sadder than all of you want to imagine …

  • http://www.andreasbittis.de andreas bittis

    … and Serena, look what I found …

    >>Serena Trab Says:

    Ideas are in the air…
    I don’t think somebody just wanna copy anybody else…Sometimes different people from different countries think exactly the same thing in the same moment…<<

    November 16th, 2007 at 12:52 pm
    http://www.dezeen.com/2007/11/15/the-traffic-of-clouds-by-hackenbroich-architekten/

    … what a coincidence …
    … but you and tonks can explain the world …
    … and what a really sad world …

    … and in the end it’s THE PRESS … THE JOURNALISTS … who have to save it from all these “thefts” and “dirty businesses” … or they make themselves to conspirators …

    … or is it in the end … what suites you best in your “what the world should look like”? … self-love? … ignorance? … rubbish? … populism? …

  • years ago…

    When Bill Price at the University of Houston did this years ago he almost poisoned the whole architecture school trying to mix the polymers/chemicals.

  • joseph

    andreas bittis wrote:

    “just ask people, read the articles i wrote and commissioned – start with domus magazine if you like and ask them who contacted them first and how they got to know it …”

    Actually I was the domus editor who together with a colleague, beatriz, found Litracon (on the web, as it happens), and dealt directly with Aron to prepare the cover article… Can’t remember having ever been in touch with you, andreas…

  • http://www.andreasbittis.de andreas bittis

    Sorry joseph,

    the mail YOU sent me is dated Fr 01.10.2004 11:51 … I am happy to put it forward to you again …

    Before that Ivana Ferri from your International Advertising Sales had contacted me … and after that there have been many mails to my account from Francesca Picchi, Beatriz Arman and others … I’ve saved them …

    Around that time Stephano Boeri became the follower of Guenther Uhlig as “head” of domus … Uhlig has been and still is editor of the German architectural magazine archplus for which I have been editor of the materials and product part for eleven years …

    And again, who do you think put all that on the net or brought this to the media … where it happens that you and others found LiTraCon?

  • Juergen

    Being interested in Mr. Losonszi’s work I have been following the story of light transmissing beton since a long time. I was really surprised when reading above story because your product looks very identical, Mr. Bittis.

    Can you explain me what is the difference between your product and LitraCon?

    I read on the web you have a patent: http://www.florack.de/de/presse/presse_transluzent.htm
    Is it true? How can you protect a similar thing?

    An architect friend of mine told me that the price of your product was more than two times higher than LitraCon. Is that right?

  • http://www.andreasbittis.de andreas bittis

    what may or may not look alike depends on your own close look … if you compare the translucent concrete by Mr Losonczi and mine you can see a difference …

    his translucent concrete is much more diffuse – so to say … you see single fibre dots which may have an inner structure or line but which in the end is not intended or predictable … this is due to the fact that although glass and cement have “the same” gross density the hydration warmth (or rather the process when cement, water and the other ingrediences become concrete) makes the fibres to go to the top of a block … it’s not much but enough that any anticipated line structure will eventually become invisible … the fibres/filaments have a diameter of only 2 micrometers! … at least if you or rather Mr Losonczi produces in the way “his” patent allowes him to …

    besides “his” technique of producing the translucent concrete is known latest through a publication in 1990 … 12 years before Mr Losonczi got “his” patent … nevertheless Mr Losonczi refers to an older patent by David Kenneth John Richardson from 1976 (!) … in this patent “some” fibres or rather filaments are put together in a bundle and THEN stick into the finished concrete plate … simply through drilling a hole and then putting the optical bundles into them … stating that effect of “translucency” was know latest by then … not to say that Schott as “the inventor” wanted this effect to happen …

    in contrast to both of them I take textile matts, which are not covered through the patent of Mr Losonczi or Mr Richardson … to make it short: Losonczi – filaments, Richardson – bundles , Bittis – textiles … this is the reason why I do have a clear linear structure or line in my translucent concrete plates … even “dotted lines” … it really depends on “how you handle” the textiles and the way they will appear later … so even the way of production is different …

    besides this truely “superficial” view the different ways of production leads to different sizes of plates … according to his own data sheet Mr Losonczi’s plates range up to 600 x 300 mm (b x h) … my plates range up to 2400 x 1200 mm (b x h)! … this is due to the fact that putting single filaments into the concrete takes hell of a time … and although you hurry up, if it comes to certain height the bottom of Mr Losonczi’s concrete is hard while the filaments on top still “swim” in just poured “wet” concrete …

    concerning prices: I do not know how you got this information … there are not prices on my homepage and all present and future customers either talk to me or someone at florack (my producer) … anyhow, the point is that 80 to 90% of the costs for any kind of translucent concrete are costs for the optical fibres … and there are just a few – not to say only one – companies in the world that can produce them … and they all have the same price (more or less) … and, please be sure, having seen the price from Mr Losonczi on his homepage, I can assure you that we do have at least the same price … if not cheaper …!

    hope to have brought some light into the dark …

  • http://naturaledgerustic.com David Robinson

    I saw the concrete exibit at the national building museum several years ago . I worked with a Dutch sculptor in San francisco in the 1970s doing large scale precast concrete works . I would love to experiment with the optical fibres. how can they be aquired? Keep on building!!

  • Rakesh

    Sir,
    First of all Congrats to all the people behind the discovery of such an innovative idea..

    I am Rakesh.S.Varma, a B.Tech Student in Civil Engineering (final year). I had few doubts on Light Transmitting Concrete. Could you please clear my doubts..

    The following are my questions.
    1.Will there be any reaction between the material of the fiber with cement ingredients or with any other ingredient of concrete.?
    2.What are the tests done on Litracon?
    3.Whats the Durability of LitracoLitracon?
    4.Does the ability to Transmit Light Decrease with Time?
    5.Is Litracon resistant to fire?
    6.What is the Workability of Litracon?
    7.How is the Compaction o fLitracon done?

    Can you please help me to find out the answers to all these questions? I would be thankful..
    Thanking you.
    Rakesh.S.Varma

  • jagdish

    ultemate
    innovative idea..

    I am jagdish j gavade, a B.E Student in Civil Engineering (final year). I had few doubts on Light Transmitting Concrete. Could you please clear my doubts..

    The following are my questions.
    1.Will there be any reaction between the material of the fiber with cement ingredients or with any other ingredient of concrete.?
    2.What are the tests done on Litracon?
    3.Whats the Durability of LitracoLitracon?
    4.Does the ability to Transmit Light Decrease with Time?
    5.Is Litracon resistant to fire?
    6.What is the Workability of Litracon?
    7.How is the Compaction o fLitracon done?
    8 .is it possible to protect opennings of fiber protect from dust?
    9.how exatly light transmitt through concrete?
    10. about economy

    Can you please help me to find out the answers to all these questions? I would be thankful..
    Thanking you.
    jagdish j. gavade

  • http://www.diamondbladedealer.com Diamond Blades

    WOW!!! I love it.

  • http://binarydesignstudio.com olive01

    In the 90′s there were several prototypes of translucent concrete designed and one developed by architect Will Wittig. Although Litracom holds several patents, the claims that Áron Losonczi is the first ‘inventor’ of the idea is ludicrous – but he did get the patents, so good for him. However, if its such a great performing material, why have we not seen it introduced on a grand scale? Have there been ASTM tests? How do architects spec the product? The specs off the website are not enough for serious construction and the prices are ridiculously high. So if an ‘inventor’ wants to keep wining about how he is the inventor, he should make sure his price point is right and his specifications are thorough enough for mainstream use – or someone else will come along, patents or not, and undercut him.

  • http://www.youcapper.com/ HandiCapper

    I like what your doing… very creative. I’m always impressed with originality.

  • http://www.diamondbladesusa.com blades

    It’s really great, I love it !!!

  • http://www.masterblade.net Diamond Tools

    This type of concrete would be excellent for beach houses. Is there a way I could get my hands on something like this?

  • sff la

    Can anyone figure out how one would attach LitraCon's pre-cast blocks/bricks/panels?

    Do you simply stack them on top of eachother? Can they be attached by a bolt?

  • http://www.chihuahuawardrobe.com Jennifer

    Just by looking at the photos you've posted above, it's almost impossible to tell that they were made by using concrete and fibers. The end result is something that's original and unique in its own right. With that said, I can't imagine how difficult something like that must be to create.