Cost-effective building system

A building system based on hollow polystyrene shuttering saves about 80% of ongoing energy costs for the structure's users, compared with conventional bricks-and-cement building systems.
The Aruba system, which can be used for both low-cost and more expensive housing, also saves about 25% on the costs of construction, mainly because much l {mosimage}A building system based on hollow polystyrene shuttering saves about 80% of ongoing energy costs for the structure's users, compared with conventional bricks-and-cement building systems.
The Aruba system, which can be used for both low-cost and more expensive housing, also saves about 25% on the costs of construction, mainly because much less skilled labour is needed.
Conventional foundations are laid, then the permanent lightweight form work consisting of interlocking modular, hollow expanded polystyrene blocks are placed and press-fitted, Lego-style, in position. The cavities within the hollow polystyrene blocks are filled with concrete, creating the rigid wall. Bonding liquid is applied to the outer polystyrene layer and it is then plastered with conventional sand-cement plaster or generic coating.
The final product is as strong as a conventional brick structure and looks the same, but can be built with 90:10 unskilled:skilled labour, compared with about 50:50 unskilled:skilled labour in conventional building.
Wiring and pipes are easily chased into the polystyrene before the final plastering/coating — compared with laborious grinding required with a brick structure.
The most striking aspect of Aruba structures is their coolness on a hot day, and warmth on a cold day. Polystyrene-based building systems have been used in the Northern Hemisphere for 30 years, but the Aruba system was particularly designed for Africa.
The system has so far been applied in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi. It has been used for the construction of low-cost housing projects, schools, conventional and upmarket housing.
A problem is the bulky nature of the polystyrene blocks, which hitherto have been made in South Africa for the Aruba system. This bulkiness means they are expensive to transport. A solution is to use an existing polystyrene maker with spare capacity to produce the blocks in the country where the building is done.
Agents for the system in southern Africa, Cortec, are also constructing a mobile plant which will make the polystyrene blocks locally for specific projects, and then be moved on.
Cortec: cortec@global.co.za Tel +|27 11 803 8840
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