Breaking new boundaries in cement-based cladding

The Italian Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai with its transparent cement cladding.Ongoing research in the field of cement-based cladding materials is increasing the ‘green’ aspects of composite and sandwich panel systems, according to Daniel van der Merwe, architect at the Cement & Concrete Institute (C&CI).

Van der Merwe says this trend is particularly evident at the newly opened Expo 2010 Shanghai in China where the Italian Pavilion presents a prime example of new directions in cement-based cladding systems. The pavilion, designed by Giampaolo Imbrighi, uses new “transparent cement”. Each panel incorporates a matrix of transparent resin rods bonded into the cement, transmitting light without weakening the structure. About 40% of the pavilion’s facade is covered by 3 774 of the translucent panels.

“This is a further step towards more eco-friendly building materials,” says Enrico Borgarello, director of innovation at Italcementi, the Italian cement-maker that developed the material. “The use of this cement permits less intensive use of artificial light inside the building because it lets the outside light filter in.”

The resins, in various colours, react differently to artificial and natural light sources, creating a soft, warm light inside the building and a clear bright image on the outside.

When the transparent cement facade is lit up at night, images of the dynamics of the building inside are projected to the city.

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