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Shining a light on concrete

Nick Myall
Tuesday 13 Oct 2015

Light transmitting concrete has been used to add a unique finish to a mosque in Abu Dhabi

The Arabic Emirate of Abu Dhabi is considered to be among the most modern cities in the world. High-rise towers and architectural distinctive buildings with generously expanded roads and highways characterize the cityscape. There are also a large number of newly constructed magnificent Mosques such as the Al Aziz Mosque on Al Reem Island. The architect on this project, APG Architecture and Planning Group, are responsible for many prominent projects in UAE and the wider Arabic World. With this new Mosque APG introduced innovative new ideas and concepts including the use of light transmitting concrete. The Al Aziz Mosque Project was provided with impressive façade elements that were designed, produced and installed by German company LUCEM Lichtbeton. 

Arabic letters written in different calligraphy on each individual panel protrude 30 mm from the light transmitting façade panels. During the day a stunning optic of a natural stone façade with a state of art design incorporating the shadows of the Calligraphy is created by the sun light. The whole façade comprises the 99 different names of God distributed on different elevations of the mosque in accordance with strict instruction of the holy Koran.

The escalation in the façade art starts at the beginning of each evening when the light transmitting façade starts its light show after the activation of the LED lights installed behind the backside of the façade panels – a technology developed by LUCEM. Light transmitting fibre optics transmit the lights of the LED lights to the external surface of the protruding letters. Each façade element is a massive concrete panel that is weatherproof and can withstand extreme temperatures that prevail in the summer months in the United Arab Emirates. The surface of the façade elements has been treated to ensure resistance of the erosion caused by sandstorms.

It is also worth mentioning that each and every LUCEM façade element is unique as it has been casted in an individually and uniquely tailored mould following detailed consideration of the exact dimensional requirements and tolerances to ensure accuracy in the execution of work especially at corners or areas with openings.

Depending on the angle of the sun, the LUCEM façade appears in different colours. During daytime the façade appears as a warm sand color, at sunset with intense direct sunlight on the façade at a 90 degree angle on the surface it is the strong colour of soil. After sunset and during twilight in the morning or evening it appears sand-grey to grey. At night, it shines and glows in a soft warm white colour. At the same time, the design of the architecture is neat and modern, a new age design, based on squares and triangles instead of circles and rounded forms of traditional mosque design. 

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Nick Myall

News Editor

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