Light Transmitting Concrete Puts the Writing on the Wall

Sheila Kim Sheila Kim

Worshippers at the Al Aziz Mosque in Abu Dhabi might very well be in awe of Allah not only spiritually, but also visually. As the sun sets, the structure’s façade comes aglow with the 99 names of God as described in the Koran, a magical display courtesy of light transmitting concrete by German company LUCEM.

Photos courtesy LUCEM

Designed by APG Architecture & Planning Group and donated by local private investment firm Hasan Abdullah Mohammed Group, the three-story, 54,900-square-foot mosque presents the names on its different elevations with Arabic letters rendered in a beautiful calligraphic style on concrete-cladding units. Each uniquely cast, 2,800-pound block, custom produced by LUCEM, was installed using undercut attachment anchors and a channel-based substructure system affixed to the mosque’s concrete structure.

Photos courtesy LUCEM

The letters protrude approximately 30 millimeters from the surface of the five-by-six-and-a-half-foot units. The resulting relief ensures visibility throughout the day, also creating light-and-shadow and even color play depending on the sun’s angles. At night, optical fibers in the concrete transmit backlighting to the exterior skin.

Photos courtesy LUCEM

Although these blocks were bespoke, LUCEM offers a standard fiber-embedded concrete panel product that is manufactured and installed similarly to natural stone cladding. The panel is calibrated, polished on either one or both sides, and measures 49 by 25.5 inches. Suitable for exterior and interior wall cladding, raised floors, furniture, and other interior applications, it can be cut, drilled, and customized with different fiber-optic designs ranging from geometric patterns to logos.

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