Graphene Could Save One of the World's Coolest Buildings

Architect Santiago Calatrava has had a tough year. He's being sued by many, many clients—including his hometown, where an opera house he built is now in shambles. Now, a company selling graphene paint wants to save it.

Graphenano, an Alicante-based manufacturer of graphene products, has sent a proposal to city administrators in Valencia arguing that one of their products could save Calatrava's much-lauded (and quickly deteriorating) City of Arts and Sciences, which opened only eight years ago.

Graphene Could Save One of the World's Coolest Buildings

Image: Josep Tomàs/CC.

Despite its $455 million price tag, a badly-designed detail on the opera house's curving facade caused masses of white tiles to peel off and fall away during high winds. In the time since, the building has been closed and all of the tiles stripped away, leaving its skeleton-like ribbing exposed—and Valencia has sued Calatrava for the damages.

But according to El Mundo, the cost of future repairs could be hugely reduced if the new facade is coated in a super-strong graphene-based paint. The product is called Graphenstone, and it's made from a mixture of limestone powder and graphene, which "acts as a supporting mesh at the molecular level." It will not only keep the building's tiles on tight, it will also better withstand the environmental changes—like hot and cold temperatures—which led to the problem in the first place. The paint is already being sold, and it's been used on older buildings in Spain before.

Graphene Could Save One of the World's Coolest Buildings

The idea comes after Calatrava's firm proposed three alternative solutions at the end of January, including simply replacing the tiles or smoothing over the bare facade with putty—none of which sound exactly ideal, and all of which will be hugely expensive (more than $4 million).

It's a terrible situation for everyone involved—but by fixing it with an incredible technology that hasn't seen much real-world use, Valencia could, in theory, turn lemons into graphene-coated lemonade. [El Mundo]

Images: AP Photo/ Fernando Bustamante.