One of the things I truly love about MIT is that you never know when you’ll learn, stumble-upon and/or be run over by something new. While waiting in line for some iced tea this morning the two architecture students behind me were discussing their current fabrication project involving modular design, scalability and the potential and weaknesses of incorporating transparent concrete.
So apparently there is something called transparent concrete. It’s really only semi-transparent (for now) but it still reminded me about how much innovation there is in an essentially millennia-old technology.
MIT is in on the concrete re-imagining, too. Professors Ulm and Vandamme have shown how to slow concrete creep, the time-dependent deformation that occurs in concrete when it is subjected to load and which eventually causes it to fail. Based on their findings, creep could be reduced to the point where concrete could last for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years, rather than the 10s of years in current construction. Longer lasting concrete not only means lower costs, increased safety, and less rebuilding, but could also reduce CO2 emissions from the industry, which currently accounts for estimated 5 to 8 percent of all human-generated atmospheric CO2 worldwide.
So your Course 1 P-Set for the day is: how much transparent concrete would I need to safely transport a pair of humpback whales?