- The use of earth-based materials is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the rural areas of developing countries. One example is the introduction of an earth dome for low-cost housing in the rural areas of Mozambique , although this project is still at a research level. The earth bricks used in building the dome are a type of composite material, consisting of porous soil and possibly cement. The brick properties depend on the proportions of soil, cement and air-filled pores. For economic reasons, the amount of the stiffer and stronger cement phase needs to be minimized. Here, some initial experimental results and the results of a simple numerical model for estimating the stiffness and strength of the bricks are presented. The numerical analyses use a 3D linear elastic finite element program to calculate the effective elastic properties of the brick and a failure stress under uniaxial compression is calculated based on a Drucker-Prager type condition for cohesive materials.