1 Ms WI de Villiers (PhD Candidate), Stellenbosch University, Department of Civil Engineering,

2 Prof WP Boshoff, Stellenbosch University, Department of Civil Engineering,


South Africa has a housing shortage estimated at 2.1 million units, which is being addressed with the construction of 41m2 low-cost single storey government subsidised housing units built with concrete masonry units. The thermal performance of these houses is poor and the large volume of concrete used in their construction is detrimental to the environment. These factors have led to alternative masonry units (AMU’s) being developed at Stellenbosch University, with a lesser environmental impact and an improved thermal performance. For these AMU’s to be accepted in the South African construction industry, their performance and quality must be assured. The development of technical specifications for AMU’s in the South African context is therefore necessary. A component of this development is the 3D meso-scale numerical analysis of single storey AMU walls, including seismic loading, to determine the mechanical demands on the masonry units. This paper outlines the modelling strategy for these analyses.


Keywords: alternative masonry units, 3D meso-scale modelling, composite material interface model