Japan’s Earthquake-Resistant Dome Houses

Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 12:12

Japan Dome Houses have been made of earthquake-resistant Styrofoam, which is the building material of the future.

Nestled near a volcano in southern Japan, 450 quake-resistant dome houses put up by a health resort and decorated with flowers and dinosaurs are drawing visitors from across Asia. A dozen polystyrene foam pieces, each so light that two adults can pick it up, are glued together to make the houses, REUTERS reports.

Its increasingly popular Styrofoam dome houses are highly earthquake-resistant, super cheap and quick to build, and have very high thermal insulating properties. Polystyrene (more commonly known as Styrofoam) is widely used for everything from cups and food containers to packaging material. Polystyrene is a petroleum-based product made from the styrene monomer, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Nevertheless, the future of earthquake-resistant home building in Japan may very well come in the shape of domed houses built from this material.

In April 2016, Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed 49 people and injured another 3,000. Over 44,000 people were evacuated from their homes, after they had collapsed or caught fire, with thousands of them still living in temporary housing. Structural damage to conventional buildings was reported both in Kumamoto and the neighboring Oita prefecture, but one place that didn’t suffer any damage was Kyushu’s Village Zone, a housing complex made up of 480 closely-packed dome-shaped houses built by Japan Dome House.

The ultra-lightweight Styrofoam pieces that are glued together to create a dome house only weight about 80 kg, which combined with its shape and the lack of a need for posts and beams just makes it very sturdy to strong earthquakes.

A dome house can be put together in just one week by a team of three people, using modular pieces, which allowing owners to put their own unique touches on them. They can be used as permanent residences, guesthouses or even small hotels. Because they are easy and cheap to build, they can also be used as temporary housing in case of disasters.

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