In Portugal, prefabricated houses are made from concrete modules

The promise of prefabricated house construction is that it is faster, cheaper and more sustainable. How designers achieve these goals can take a myriad of forms. One of the more inventive efforts recently comes from Samuel Gonçalves of Summary Architects, whose Gomos system uses prefabricated concrete modules to build expandable, adaptable buildings.

The system, which was first seen as a prototype at the 2016 Venice Biennale, has been refined to the point where it is now being used to build actual, habitable structures – for example this new residential project in Vale de Cambra, Portugal.

Gonçalves explains that the publicly accessible ground floor of the mixed-use building is characterized by building panels and prefabricated concrete slabs, which can be an open space or be subdivided as required.

Upstairs on the ground floor are six modular houses, each 484 square meters in size, made of precast concrete. These units are humble, with their most noticeable features being the angled roof and glass wall at one end. But efficiency goes hand in hand with humility.

The modules are manufactured in a factory and then built on site. According to Gonçalves, this building system is evidence of our present moment.

“The pandemic shows us that it is crucial to create working conditions in order to avoid uncontrolled concentration of workers and that there is an increasing shortage of skilled workers in the construction sector,” he says. “Is this building an anticipation of what it will look like in the future?”

Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

Compact kitchen with a yellow wall

Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

View from the bedroom into the living room

Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

Angled concrete housing unit that glows at night

Fernando Guerra | FG + SG

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