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Polystyrene roof could be the future

Engineers have built a roof canopy out of a form of polystyrene to showcase an innovative construction technique.

A National University of Singapore (NUS)-led team created the Cloud Arch for the Archifest event in the South East Asian country this month.

The structure is part of a broader project to test the use of high density expanded polystyrene (EPS) to create long span roofing.

Led by Shinya Okuda, assistant professor at NUS, the Cloud Arch project aims to develop the material for use in industrial or commercial roofing.

High density EPS can be rapidly deployed and installed, is flexible, and can be cut to form complex shapes.

Web Structures, which has offices in Singapore and London, is working with NUS on the project.

Hossein Rezai, group director of Web Structures, said: “A very encouraging fact is that we have barely needed to increase the EPS composite thickness for the longer spans; only to reinforce its composite strength.

“This implies that [the advantages of] Cloud Arch’s ultra-light weight will be further realised when the target spans get longer.”

The project team now plans to develop a 24m-span factory roofing prototype.

Richard Outhwaite, director of Web Structures’ sister company Web Earth, added: “Currently the material is limited to insulation or as a void former, so this new application gives this highly flexible material another use.”

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