Beyond Practicality: Three Interesting Uses of Concrete

For some people, concrete is viewed as more practical than exciting.

While glamour is typically not a requirement when it comes to infrastructure, concrete has the versatility to go beyond the ordinary, functioning as the key component in a vast array of construction projects.

Below are some perception-breaking applications that will erase any notion that concrete is incapable of inspiring innovation.

It Floats

Jefferson Concrete Corp. - Floating Dock

Image Courtesy of Jefferson Concrete Corp.

Sure, you’ve seen concrete on roadways, but how about on water?

Precast concrete manufacturers have cast floating dock systems capable of both counteracting the buoyant forces of water and withstanding the harsh weather patterns typically associated with port and harbor locations.

Jefferson Concrete Corp. of Watertown, N.Y., and Shea Concrete Products of Wilmington, Mass., both partnered with Marinetek on separate projects to manufacture precast concrete floating dock systems for locations in the Northeast.  For each precaster, successful project completion has resulted in stable, low-maintenance docks for the customers that are both functional and pleasing to the eye.

It Lights Up


Image Courtesy of LUCEM Lichtbeton

For LUCEM Lichtbeton of Germany, concrete was meant to be more than gray.

Featuring light transmitting concrete panels capable of displaying up to 16 million colors, the LUCEM Facade project at RWTH Aachen University lights up just before sunset, with each panel returning to a natural stone appearance during the day.

Because each panel can be controlled independently, the facade has the potential to be converted into a large display screen, expanding the material’s potential usage in the future.

It’s Translucent

Essroc - Translucent

Image Courtesy of Essroc Italcementi Group

Someday, windowless concrete buildings could dominate cityscapes.

Translucent concrete panels, developed by Essroc Italcementi Group of Italy, are capable of transmitting both natural and artificial light.

Although the translucent effect is more noticeable in the dark, exterior light is capable of filtering in during the day, a feature which could result in energy savings for buildings utilizing the panels in their design.

Why it Matters

While the need for concrete that floats, lights up or is translucent may not be commonplace, it’s important that specifiers know they can tap into the nearly limitless possibilities a local precast concrete provider can offer.

Whether it’s custom shapes or sizes, integral color, architectural finishes, problem-solving designs, unmatched durability, ease of installation or any other quality, the end customer simply needs to know that precast concrete can get the job done right while simultaneously meeting many custom needs.


  1. Jay Shilstone says

    While none of these items is particularly new, when you put them together like this is can spark the imagination of designers. Well done!

    Jay Shilstone

  2. Mason Nichols says

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you for the comment! We too believe that creative uses of concrete such as these have the potential to inspire designers, now and into the future. We also believe that precast concrete’s versatility is one of it’s greatest strengths.

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