Over three years after completing their first prefabricated dwelling, architects Mário Sousa and Marta Brandão have now installed modular homes all across Portugal. Their latest is a summerhouse in scenic Alentejo (+ slideshow).
The concept behind MIMA House is to offer high-quality affordable residences that can be manufactured quickly and easily – something the architects believe isn't readily available elsewhere.
"MIMA bears a powerful combination of design, customisation, high-quality construction, speed and a very attractive price, all of this done within a very short time," explained Brandão, who alongside Sousa founded MIMA Housing.
"There are very few companies who can do such good things so fast," she told Dezeen. "Additionally, Portugal has really great construction expertise and possibly some of the lowest production prices in Europe."
The first MIMA house was built in the summer of 2011 in Viana do Castelo, and was marketed as costing no more to manufacture than a family car. The architects have now completed another 16, and have over 20 more in progress.
Each house is designed around a 36-square-metre template, which can be configured to create a variety of different floor plans.
The basic unit can also be extended or shortened in increments of 1.5 metres thanks to integrated tracks in the floor and ceiling.
"We have noticed that each new house is slightly different from the previous one, and that for us is the beauty of the concept," said Brandão.
"The client has the opportunity to decide on so many features – the size, typology, finishings, etcetera – that you can hardly find two similar houses."
Built in just 60 days, the Alentejo house features an L-shaped plan, allowing it to wrap around a swimming pool. An open-plan living room and kitchen are located at the centre, while two bedrooms are positioned at the opposite ends.
The property features a minimal interior, including white walls, oak joinery and white tiles – intended to fit in with the rural setting. Clients can choose other finishes, as long as they are in keeping with the architects' low-cost, high-quality ethos.
"We are very careful with the choice of the materials, because we want the houses to remain at a high-quality level and we also want them to age well," explained Brandão.
"We use only solid woods with good quality – a very resistant composite of resin and capotto for the exterior frame and walls, laminated timber for the structure, tiles for the bathroom, plaster on the interior walls and high quality glazing," she added.
The pair recently completed a MIMA House in Switzerland, and is putting plans into place to make the product available worldwide.
"Although we now have capacity to build in most of the European countries, we're scouting partners to start franchising, in Europe and other countries," said Brandão.
"We have also been developing a partnership in Canada and we'll be able to build there very soon."
Photography is by José Campos.