The Future Of Design: Transparent Wood

Professor Lars Berglund suggests that transparent wood could soon replace glass.

Wonder Woman has an invisible jet. Fairies have invisible cottages. And now modern man is on the brink of erecting invisible homes and structures. Well, sort of. Transparent is the more appropriate term.

Professor Lars Berglund at Sweden’s Royal Institute Of Technology has been hard at work looking for an eco-friendly substitute to glass. The fruits of his labors have yielded a material we’re already familiar with: wood.

Yes, wood has turned out to be the material of the future. How so? Berglund removes the wood’s lignin. Then he mixes the wood with polymethyl methacrylate. The result produces a transparent form of wood that is not only gentler on the environment; it also is more energy efficient. Such material also means even more light can get into the structure.

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transparent wood, Lars Berglund

A close-up look at the transparent wood created by Dr. Lars Berglund and co-authors.

What does that mean for the evolution of architecture and design? Buildings and structures could certainly leave a smaller carbon footprint and at the same time, they could even conserve more energy over the long run. The idea of creating something both aesthetic and ethical could be just the sort of boost the design world needs.

Wood, according to Berglund, is already “tough” and has “low thermal conductivity.” Both of these traits are ideal for creating durable structures that stand the test of time. Yielding such a material in mass will only be a matter of trial testing. Until then we’ll have to wait with baited breath for our future invisible homes.

Photos courtesy of Photo courtesy of KTH Royal Institute of Technology.