On a wooded hillside in the Mexico City colonia of Bosques de las Lomas, Taller Aragonés has erected a prototype of the Pi Home to showcase its ingenious, fully customizable modular construction system. The prefab comes flat-packed in boxes and can be assembled in 45 days without the help of heavy machinery.
Lightweight, intuitive to assemble, and inexpensive to ship, the Pi Home uses extrusion-die aluminum framing that’s anchored with rebar to the ground or a poured concrete foundation. Like a Lego set, a network of steel doughnuts spans lengths of up to 30 feet to support the structure. Aluminum studs link seamlessly to joists, and the exterior cladding is clipped onto the frame. It’s a method that could, in principle, be extended to 45 feet. Able to be shipped anywhere, the system holds potential for single-family homes as well as larger projects, such as social housing.
"It’s important to emphasize this being not only a modular system, but a construction system, so it can transform according to the site’s topography and dimensions," says Rafael Aragonés, son of architect Miguel Aragonés and an associate in his studio. "If you need to adapt it for a particular project or landscape, you’re easily able to adjust the construction system."
The Bosques de las Lomas model is a relatively luxe version, furnished with top-of-the-line appliances and finished with high-quality materials. Even so, Aragonés says, the Pi Home’s aluminum frame, speed of assembly, and lower shipping costs means that it’s about a third of the cost of a typical construction—making it an exemplary modern home affordable to moderate-income earners.
Not only that, the Pi Home surpasses traditional home design through its impressive energy efficiency. The walls and joists have thermal and waffle insulation packages that meet California’s high R22 sustainability standard, achieving a complete thermal break to prevent leakage of heat through the structure. The windows are all double-glazed. And aluminum is one of the most easily and widely recycled materials, giving the house an especially circular life cycle.
"You have all of this midcentury inheritance, but truly, when you visit these houses in California, it was all very aesthetic, but it was unlivable on a hot or cold day," says Aragonés. "We have to take the step and accomplish having efficient thermal living inside the house."
The Pi Home has received an international patent in Switzerland for the first-of-its-kind structure for aluminum houses. Taller Aragonés expects to complete the International Code Council building certification process in the coming months and plans to market the house in California, New York, and Texas.
More by Taller Aragonés:
Architect of Record: Taller Aragonés
Structural Engineer: Jose Nolasco
Lighting Design: Taller Aragonés / Phillips Hue
Interior Design: Taller Aragonés / Poliform / La Palma
Sound Engineer: Taller Aragonés / InSound Solutions
Aluminum Supplier: Alubin
Wood Suppliers: Alpi veneer, Garbelotto floors
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