The options available for prefabricated houses just keep getting better and better – case in point: the PI, an innovative aluminium prefab house design from Mexican architect Miguel Ángel Aragonés features a cool, minimalist exterior, sustainability credentials, and plenty of scope for customisation. 

The PI showcases a technological advancement in aluminium work, patented by Aragonés, which enables large expanses of glass to be introduced, while still preserving energy efficiency. Coupled with the fact that aluminium is light yet strong, resistant to corrosion and above all, recyclable and therefore more sustainable, the durable, yet budget-friendly house cuts a solid figure with its clean lines, crisp finish and industrial undertones. 

‘We wanted to design a prefab house because it is a huge architectural necessity. There is a void where, until now, we have not seen a real solution on cost and quality of the space; cabins need to be transported by container truck trailers and installed with huge cranes or sophisticated machines. [A lot is] transported [by] air, which is very expensive to do,’ muses Aragonés, who has practised architecture in Mexico City since 1984.

aluminium prefab house design by architect Miguel Ángel Aragonés

‘Our concept avoids cranes, and we minimise air transportation. We need one and a half containers to transport the total structural components, façade cladding, and interior components to the site. This transportation reduction and packaging methodology helps in the reduction of traffic and energy waste. Everything gets unloaded by a group of four people in a matter of hours, free of heavy machinery. Nothing, except glass, is heavier than 160lb, and the glass only needs a manual pulley to be installed.’

The attention placed on construction continues in the interior mechanics of the prefab house design. ‘The electrical and mechanical conduits and installations are screwable or plugin, and the space between the exterior cladding and the interior assembly panels allows for the most efficient thermal, insulation, and acoustic solution,’ explains Aragonés. ‘In many latitudes and places I know (California, London, Paris,) the cost of a house like this is five or six times more. Aluminium allows you to do the finishing with the highest quality from the beginning and is a material easy to recycle, with no corrosion, and easy and cheap to maintain.’

Miguel Ángel Aragonés designs metal prefab house in Mexico

Versatility is another aspect at the PI’s heart. It can be configured vertically or horizontally, and its walls conform to a pressure panel assembly system that covers the panels with thermic and acoustic insulation. Once assembled, it serves as a blank canvas that can be designed and customised however its residents see fit. From adding wood panelling to bring warmth, or a dynamic staircase to deliver a hint of drama, the P1’s aluminium prefab house design certainly has the potential to spin the idea of prefabrication on its head. 

‘This is a totally different approach to the traditional typology of prefab housing. You can transform your space and build up to whatever size you need, with no modular restrictions when it comes to the size of your home or space,’ says Aragonés. ‘The colours, textures, and interior surfaces can be personalised. That was the most important issue; the possibility to create a house or transformed space as big as you need with the highest quality, at a different price.’ §

Entrance going in at Miguel Ángel Aragonés metal prefab house in Mexico
dramatic staircase at Miguel Ángel Aragonés metal prefab house in Mexico
timber cladding inside Miguel Ángel Aragonés metal prefab house in Mexico