The dark opaque walls of any building contribute to a number of negative effects; They give a congested feeling like the walls are closing in on you, then there is also the problem of lighting as each room has to have its own lighting equipment and wiring and they also appear to be artificial. An Italian company Italcementi has recently developed a semi-transparent cement that would allow the much-needed light through the walls and minimize the problems discussed above.
Their work isn’t just limited to theory or research as they constructed a building from this cement at an exhibition in Shanghai, China. They made 3,774 see-through panels using this cement in a 60-40 ratio. These panels were later used to cover 1,887 sq. meters of a building.
They call this project the i.light concept. The i.lighted building appeared somewhat different from the outside but the main difference was witnessed from inside since the walls are transmitting light and you can even see silhouettes of the scenery outside and even next door within the building as well. This gives an immediate aura of spaciousness as opposed to the blank walls that promote conformity and seclusion.
Italcementi says that their mixture bonds with thermoplastic polymer structure to create a “holey” form of structure as it creates minute microscopic holes in the wall that help in the propagation of light from inside to outside and from one room to another. The structure gives the overall appearance of a giant “honeycomb” as Italcementi puts it. From a certain distance, the walls appear just like any other concrete wall but from a nearer range, we can see the semi-transparent nature of the structure. The structure allows roughly 20% of the incident light into the building.
In sunny days, a lot of electricity can be saved through buildings based on i.light concept. Not only it provides better light, it also helps in better air circulation in the building thus saving money on Air conditioners and ventilators as well.
Unfortunately the company didn’t go public with all the details regarding the curious translucent cement and panels most importantly the cost and other drawbacks. Although, we believe that the extra cement costs may be covered by electricity conservation in the future years to come as it is one-time cost only.
Do check out this video here.