At the World Expo in Shanghai this year, the Italian pavilion was concrete, yet light passed right through it. Engineers and architects have talked about producing translucent concrete for generations, but until now the closest attempts only dotted the surface with points of translucency, like pixels in a low-res image. Think of Italcementi's material—cement and admixtures bonded to a transparent thermoplastic matrix that provides a consistent translucency—as high-resolution. It's cheaper, stronger and offers a wider visual angle than any competitor, and it means that even windowless concrete buildings could someday be daylit.
Yes, translucent concrete is amazing. But is it structural? Is it able to withstand shear forces? Will we see the reinforcing if it can? Will the grout that holds the reinforcement in place obfuscate the translucency? If it is not structurally load bearing [beyond its own weight], then it is a decorative building material, like paint. Is it fireproof?
I wonder if the translucent concrete demonstrates birefringence such that stress distribution could be seen under polarized light?