Foldable Houses: Fast, Flexible, Future-Proof?

Italian architects M.A.Di. have developed a foldable, earthquake-resistant house that can be installed within hours. Could this be an answer to some of today’s housing challenges?

The M.A.Di. Home, developed by architect Renato Vidal, consists of various prefabricated sections that easily fold up and out. Due to this flexible structure, the house can be transported easily and installed on site astonishingly fast, with the latter process only taking up six or seven hours. These characteristics could make the home especially suitable for more temporary forms of housing, such as those required for fairs and first aid facilities in case of natural disasters.

Building in progress. Image courtesy of M.A.Di.

Since the home is delivered in modules, owners also have the option to customize its dimensions and materials according to their personal needs and likes. Should they fancy a larger or more luxurious living environment, they can simply decide to add an extra housing module or more precious materials and custom furniture to their already existing module. Prices for the different M.A.Di homes range between approximately €21,600 (US$25,195) for the smallest module and €67,200 (US$73,385) for the biggest. This incredibly high flexibility and modularity could make people’s search for fitting homes a lot easier.

Another interesting feature of the M.A.Di. homes is that they use an innovative screwing system to secure them to the ground. As a result, “they do not need any foundations when temporarily placed on a level ground” and therefore do not consume any soil during their lifetime. Additionally, the screwing system allows the home to be removed swiftly, so that it can be moved to another place or stored in a warehouse when not useful anymore in one place. The possibility to install rooftop solar panels, LED lighting, water tanks, and a gray water system on the buildings means that they are able to function completely off-grid, considerably lowering their environmental impact.

Living room of the M.A.Di. home. Image courtesy of M.A.Di.

Although M.A.Di. claims to have produced “one of the most revolutionary housing solutions on the market today,” several other foldable and highly flexible housing concepts have been released, including those from Ten Fold Engineering, IKEA and Pieter Stoutjesdijk. If such concepts gain significant traction in the upcoming years, would they perhaps be able to formulate an answer to current housing issues, such as long and costly building processes, lack of flexibility in terms of usage over time, and environmental impact?