The ability to move, grow, change, and adapt is pretty essential for most human beings, and yet we haven’t ever required the same of our built environments. With the exception of strictly nomadic cultures, we primarily construct architecture and infrastructure that’s static and permanently set in place, expecting to remain in a single location for an extended period of time and put down roots. But in the 21st century, all of that has been changing. Many people are traveling and moving more often, experiencing one place for a while and then hitting the road for fresh new perspectives. Will more of our structures change to reflect this shift?
A new prefabricated mobile home called the M.A.Di is aiming to do exactly that. Sure, there are plenty of houses in the world designed to fit on the back of a truck for transportation to new locations — but most of them don’t snap up into place at the tug of a crane like something in a children’s pop-up book or fully assemble in a mere six hours with only three people present. The M.A.Di takes portability to a whole new level, especially considering its size and complexity.
Standing just under five feet high when it’s packed down flat, the M.A.Di unfolds into a two-story, 21-foot-tall A-frame house, with an earthquake-resistant steel outer shell wrapping around its roof and two exterior walls. This shell provides most of the home’s structural integrity, though it also comes fully insulated and finished on the inside with either wood paneling or another material of the buyer’s choice. The walls and floors are pre-equipped with electric wiring, plumbing, and HVAC systems.
You don’t even need to dig or pour a foundation to prepare for the M.A.Di’s arrival. The modular home can simply be anchored to the ground using a screw pile system, and when you’re ready to move, you can simply unscrew it, fold the house back up, and either store it in a warehouse until your next location is ready or put it back on a truck. Add solar panels, a water source, and greywater recycling, and the home will be totally off-grid.
The M.A.Di comes in five sizes: 290, 495, 603, 753, and 904 square feet. If you prefer, you can start with a smaller home and simply add more modules to make it as large as you need it to be. Each one comes with a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and living room on the ground floor and one or more bedrooms on the upper floor. It’s finished with polyurethane foam to make it waterproof, insulated with high-density rock wool, and features either PVC or aluminum window frames.
“The M.A.Di system offers many typological solutions that vary according to the aggregation of multiple modules and/or the use of different materials,” say the manufacturers. “The availability of modules of different sizes and the ability to place them side by side, both laterally and in depth, allows you to create valuable agglomerations. The high standardization of the production process and its dry-assembled structure allow savings in terms of economic resources and time. This product is eco-friendly, modular, removable, safe, and cozy.”
“The external walls are not structural, they can be blind, with windows or glass. In the standard production, exterior walls are finished with fir-wood slats in the color required by the customer, but there are innumerable types of finishes from plaster, to aluminum or fiberboard panels, or swamp reed, etc. The restroom and the kitchen are fully customizable, as you can install any product available on the market.”
Created by Italian architect Renato Vidal and manufactured by wood specialists Area Legno in Italy, the M.A.Di takes about 30 to 40 days to complete from the date of order, starting at $25,295 for the smallest module and $73,385 for the largest (before any additional customization). Currently, the homes are only for sale within Italy, but the company aims to bring it to the rest of Europe and North America sometime soon.