I came across an article on transparent cement the other day, on Discovery News. The picture of the building was funky enough to pique my interest, and I continued reading. I wanted to know if this could be a future competitor to architectural glass. The article didn't provide the answer, so I figured I'd ask around.
“It really isn’t transparent, but more translucent,” said Rob Struble, business communications manager, growth initiatives and performance glazing, PPG Industries Inc., Pittsburgh. “It does not afford clear vistas of the outdoors or much light transmittance.” For now, he sees it is a novelty product, he said.
Photo by Italcementi Group
According to the Discovery article, transparent cement made its debut at the Italian Pavilion during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The technology is based on a matrix of cement embedded with resins designed to allow a certain amount of light through without compromising the material's integrity.
The product introduction follows similar advancements such as BrightBuild light-transmittance concrete from Schott North America, Elmsford, N.Y., that won Glass Magazine's Most Innovative Curtain Wall Components, large company, Crystal Achievement Award in 2008.
Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management, Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich., recently attended an architectural seminar on transparent cement in India where architects talked about why they use glass in designing for the IT industry in places like Bangalore and Hyderabad. The Indian IT industry values glass to the outside to increase employee satisfaction, productivity and retention, he said. "While there is always room for another ‘eco-friendly’ building product, we do not feel that this product provides significant competition to glass,” he said. “In addition to pure aesthetics, architects and designers use glass to bring the outside in and inside out. Studies have shown that both daylighting and visual exposure to the outside increase workplace comfort, performance and motivation. You can't get that with cement, no matter how 'transparent.' "
What’s your take on transparent cement? Will it ever become a competitor to architectural glass?