When they hear the word “Styrofoam”, most people think about disposable food containers or packaging material, but for one Japanese modular home manufacturer, it is the building material of the future. Its increasingly popular Styrofoam dome houses are highly earthquake-resistant, super cheap and quick to build, and have very high thermal insulating properties. What’s not to like?
Japan Dome House has been selling Styrofoam houses in Japan for the last 15 years, but it was last year that demand for the ultra light housing skyrocketed. 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.