Light has always been one of the most important features in any architural design. Architects use a variety of tricks to bring light into their buildings. Now they have another trick up their sleeve:– transparent concrete.
Last year, the Prefabricated Elements division of Gesteco SpA sealed an important deal with the Italian multinational Italcementi SpA to produce transparent concrete under its i.light brand.
Gesteco developed the industrial processes to manufacture transparent concrete in a range of designs. Marketed under the Kenius name, this concrete was already used in the Italian pavillion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai and for the Centre Pompidou, which opened in Malaga in 2014.
“Through our cooperation with Italcementi, we will be able to push the design possiblities of concrete even further,” says Adriano Luci, President of Gruppo Luci and Vice President of Gesteco SpA. “Italcementi is devoting its considerable research and development resources to the continued development of concrete as an innovative and versatile building material for the future.”
Concrete has come a long way and shaken off its reputation for grey drabness. It is also an abundant, low-cost material which has a low impact on the environment. These are concerns that have occupied Gruppo Luci since its inception.
Gesteco’s activities are organized into three divisions: Aggregates and Prepacked, Prefabricated Elements and Environment.
“Environmental protection is our primary mission,” insists Mr. Luci. “We work to improve people’s health and quality of life by ensuring that we also protect the environment we all rely on for our survival.”
Gesteco’s Environment division is active in the areas of reclamation works and waste treatment, demolition and laboratory analyses. It offers a full service from soil analysis to contamination cleanup and disposal. Former industrial sites or other polluted areas are reclaimed using specially tailored techniques according to the specific pollutants or contaminants present in the ground.
The sanitation systems used are designed to process microorganism matrices that degrade polluting molecules organically (bio-remediation). Other techniques include soil washing for the separation of contaminants from the environmental matrix. Gesteco also has experience in constructing landfill sites and more recently has set up a new company to process organic waste from industrial, municipal and agricultural collections to produce bio-methane for energy production.
“Waste has long been seen as a problem that can only get bigger,” says Mr. Luci. “By taking new approaches, we can turn conventional thinking on its head and begin to see waste as a commercial opportunity.”
At the other end of the product cycle, the Aggregates and Prepacked division works in the field of extraction, processing and sale of aggregates for the building industry. The pre-washed and sorted materials are offered in a variety of different grades and qualities.
The product range also includes bio mortars which are produced using a cycle reflecting natural processes. “Our products contain no chemical additives and are monitored over the years to ensure strength and resistance.”
Gesteco is the largest company in Gruppo Luci, accounting for 80% of total turnover. The other companies are Labiotest, which supplies technologies for improving air quality; LOD, which carries out tests on airborne odours, and Logis, which specializes in industrial real estate development.
Gruppo Luci employs a total of 130 people and generates annual turnover of 25 million EUR. Export activities account for around 10% of turnover.
“Foreign sales make up a relatively small proportion of our sales,” says Mr. Luci. “However, so far we have only been active abroad through Labiotest, which is very succesful in China.”
Gruppo Luci recently concluded a lucrative contract to build a waste processing center in Beijing, which will soon come on line. It also hopes to start a joint venture with a Chinese partner aimed at producing products from other companies in the group specifically for the Chinese market.
The company is also targeting other markets in the Balkans and Morocco. As a family company now being run by the second generation and the third generation waiting in the wings, Gruppo Luci is looking to the long term. Its current focus is on expanding its export activities and working on increasingly sophisticated solutions.