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.
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.