All about innovation: Translucent wood, light generating cement & more

Vian Le
October 2, 2018


All About Innovation!

Digital technology has improved productivity and sustainability in all fields. Construction is no exception, although it has admittedly taken a little longer to advance than others due to limited infrastructure, traditional attitudes and resistance to change from key stakeholders and members in the industry. This being said, the way we build, design and work is slowly advancing. A particular shift in focus we’ve noticed is toward sustainable building- a mission we can fully stand behind.

Part of our goal as industry ambassadors is to stay ahead of the curve. We make it our business to provide valuable insights to our peers on groundbreaking products and practices that improve efficiency or reduce environmental impact. Here are 3 innovative, newly developed products that we feel have the power to transform the future of building.


Translucent Wood:

This new material could greatly impact the way we build and create architecture going forward. Developed by the KTH Institute of Technology in Stockholm, this wood variation is optically translucent. According to ArchDaily, this product is created through a process that removes the chemical lignin from a wood veneer, causing it to become very white. This white porous veneer is then impregnated with a transparent polymer, matching the optical properties of the individual cells and making the whole material translucent. Here are some of the benefits this material can provide:

  1. It lets sunlight in when used in windows and facades, while still preserving the privacy of the home.
  2. When used on solar panels, translucent wood can provide an inexpensive alternative due to cheaper production costs, especially over large areas.
Light Generating Cement:

This revolutionary smart material was developed by Dr. José Carlos Rubio Ávalos of the UMSNH of Morelia in 2015, and has the ability to improve energy efficiency by absorbing and radiating light energy. In architecture, this product would no doubt prove extremely useful in building facades, swimming pools, driveways, bathrooms and kitchens. It would also come in handy in road safety and signs, and anywhere you want to illuminate or mark spaces that don’t have access to electricity, since natural light is it’s only needed source of power. The best part? this material is non-organic yet its components are recyclable, and it is estimated to have a lifespan of up to 100 years.

Pollution Absorbing Bricks:

The “Breathe Brick” was developed by Carmen Trudell, an assistant professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s school of architecture, and is designed to suck in pollutants from the air, while simultaneously releasing filtered air. The Breathe Brick forms a part of a building’s regular ventilation system, with a double-layered facade of the specialist bricks on the outside, complemented by a standard internal layer providing insulation. At the center of its function is a cyclone filtration, similar to that of a modern vacuum cleaner’s, which separates out the heavy pollutant particles from the air and drops them into a removable hopper at the base of the wall. In wind-tunnel tests, the system was found to filter 30% of fine particles (ex. airborne pollutants) and 100% of coarse particles like dust. As the system is fairly inexpensive, the Breathe Brick could potentially provide a cost effective solution to lowering pollution levels in developing countries.