Light Re­flect­ing Con­crete

BlingCrete rep­re­sents a new genre of ma­te­rials with its own log­ic of ef­fect that can­not be de­scribed sim­p­ly in terms of the usu­al cat­e­gorie­sof heavy and light or form, con­struc­tion, and sur­face. The ma­te­rial, al­so known as light-re­flect­ing con­crete, com­bines the pos­i­tive char­ac­teris­tics of con­crete (fire safe­ty, so­lid­i­ty, build­ing meth­ods) with those of retrore­flec­tion. Retrore­flect­ing sur­faces send in­com­ing rays of light (sun­light or ar­ti­fi­cial light) back pre­cise­ly in the di­rec­tion of the source. This op­ti­cal pheno­menon is pro­duced by embed­d­ing glass mi­cro­spheres in the sub­s­trate ma­te­rial. Cru­cial for the re­flec­tive pow­er are the round­ness, clar­i­ty, and re­frac­tive in­dex of the beads, as well as the bond be­tween the glass mi­cro­spheres and the sub­s­trate. The dia­log with light, last­ing­ly in­te­grat­ed by the com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­rials, cre­ates the spe­cial, de­ma­te­rial­ized aes­thet­ic. BlingCrete cre­ates im­mer­sive en­vi­ron­ments by lowtech ana­logue modes.

High De­sign Po­ten­tials

The po­ten­tials of BlingCrete open up vari­ous de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties in the ar­eas of ar­chi­tec­ture, in­te­ri­or de­sign and in tran­s­port safe­ty. Po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions are, for ex­am­ple, safe­ty-re­lat­ed mark­ing of dan­ger spots in con­struc­tion (stairs, side­walks, plat­form edges and tun­nels), as well as the de­sign of in­te­grat­ed gui­dance sys­tems and nov­el sur­face com­po­nents (façade, floor and ceil­ing). BlingCrete fa­cili­ates new and un­ex­pect­ed ways of per­cep­tion. In prin­ci­pal it is an un­ob­tru­sive ma­te­rial that is eye-catch­ing or even flam­boy­ant when re­quired. The in­for­ma­tion is la­tent­ly stored in the sur­face with­out dom­i­nat­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture, its vis­i­bil­i­ty is af­fect­ed by the users’ walk­ing paths and the po­si­tion of the light, mak­ing it ful­ly vis­i­ble at spe­cif­ic points. It is the con­cept of a ma­te­rial ad­mitt­ing the cre­a­tion of sub­tle sur­faces that ma­n­age to me­di­ate be­tween ma­te­rial and light and thus in­di­rect­ly re­fer­ing to the re­la­tion­ship be­tween mass and sur­face.BlingCrete ag­gre­gates ex­per­tise of art, ar­chi­tec­ture, prod­uct de­sign, ma­te­rial re­search and ex­per­i­men­tal physics.

Sur­face Per­for­mance

The BlingCrete sur­face is ac­ti­vat­ed de­pend­ing on the po­si­tion of sur­face, light source, and re­cipi­ent. The re­flec­tive ef­fect can be per­ceived at a cer­tain mo­ment. The con­crete changes from a pas­sive to an ac­tive state, so to speak. It is not im­por­tant whether the source is day­light or ar­ti­fi­cial light po­si­tioned in a tar­get­ed way. Even sev­er­al light sources with dif­fer­ent colours and po­si­tions can be ori­ent­ed to the sur­face in the space. BlingCrete al­lows to trans­form any or­d­i­nary space in­to a high­ly im­mer­sive or in­ter­ac­tive en­vi­ron­ment by lowtech ana­logue modes. De­spite their flat­ness, the two-di­men­sio­n­al sur­faces made of this ma­te­rial are cre­at­ing a three-di­men­sio­n­al il­lu­sion. The vis­i­tor’s van­tage point, that is nor­mal­ly per­ceived as the in­te­ri­or fac­ing the ex­te­ri­or or vice-ver­sa, is called in­to ques­tion due to this dou­bling. BlingCrete in­vesti­gates the pos­si­bil­i­ties of en­liven­ing ma­te­rials by tak­ing the sur­faces as a start­ing point both con­cep­tu­al­ly and tech­ni­cal­ly. It is a change of fo­cus from the ap­pear­ance of a ma­te­rial to the per­for­mance of sur­faces.

Prop­er­ties and Pa­ram­e­ters

BlingCrete of­fers high de­sign po­ten­tial, which de­rives from the pro­duc­tion pro­cess. Ba­si­cal­ly, the build­ing pro­cess and use are com­para­ble to known pro­ce­du­ral man­n­ers of pre­fab­ri­cat­ed el­e­ments. The parts of BlingCrete are High Per­for­mance and Ul­tra High Per­for­mance Con­cretes that are used: With the ad­h­e­sive com­po­si­tion of glass beads and their po­si­tion in the ma­trix that can be con­trolled pre­cise­ly. They could be po­si­tioned in any grid or pat­tern or in a ran­dom dis­tri­bu­tion on the sur­face, the colour of the ma­trix can be pro­duced in a greys­cale va­ri­e­ty from white to an­thracite (i.e. black), and colours like yel­low, red, green etc. The sizes of the beads range from 0,7 mm to 7 mm, with 2 mm as a stan­dard size. Com­bi­na­tions of sizes are al­so pos­si­ble. The pa­ram­e­ters re­sult­ing from the two main com­po­nents, ma­trix and spheres, af­fect the ap­pear­ance and prop­er­ties of the sur­face: There is not one BlingCrete, but sev­er­al.



research & project funding

team members