WIT Press

A laboratory investigation and an appraisal of the viability of expanded polystyrene dwellings


Free (open access)


Volume 7 (2019), Issue 3



Page Range

212 - 225

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Bonke Mncwango & Dhiren Allopi


The construction of expanded polystyrene (EPS) dome houses requires intricate moulding equipment. A further obstacle in the accessibility of EPS dome houses is the minimum order placed by suppliers. Japan Dome House Company supplies dome houses at a minimum order of three-hundred units. This publication analyses how a miniature EPS dome house model created using a hot-wire system matches the claimed performance features of a factory-manufactured EPS Dome house. The purpose of this research is to investigate whether EPS dome houses can be created on an individual basis through a change in the construction method in order to increase product accessibility. All EPS dome pieces were carved over a period of 5 days. EPS pieces were assembled and left exposed to the elements since the main method of analysis of the live model was through exposure; particularly against rain and wind experienced within the jurisdiction of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Analysis of the live model was studied in conjunction with the compression, flexural and thermal qualities of EPS under labora- tory conditions. With wind speeds of 39 km/h and a rainfall intensity of 28 mm, the model was still found to be in its original state of composure after three months even without having been permanently anchored to the ground. Observation of the model revealed that it is possible to successfully re-create an EPS dome house without complex moulding equipment. However, a compressive strength test on EPS revealed that the compressive qualities of EPS are significantly lower than that of conventional materials such as clay bricks. Contrary to what may be believed, a thermo-gravimetric analysis of three different densities (15, 20 and 30 kg/m3) of EPS revealed that as the density of EPS increases, the maximum degradation value decreases. Dome houses are pre-fabricated and therefore have a reduced impact on the environment.


Compression, Dome-house, Expanded Polystyrene, Flexural tests, Polymers, TGA