Portuguese studio Mima Architects have designed the Mima House project, a prefab dwelling located in Viana do Castelo, in the Norte Region of Portugal.

Completed in 2011, this 387 square foot prototype is fundamentally inspired on the traditional Japanese house, “the perfect paradigm for lightness, flexibility, comfort and pleasing lines.”

MIMA House by Mima Architects:

“MIMA started from the intention of planning a dwelling which would respond directly to the lifestyle of today’s societies. How can architecture adapt to the quick life changes and ambitions of a well informed and increasingly exigent society? MIMA architects researched during over five years to be able to put together on a single object a fast produced, flexible, light and cheap yet good quality product, wrapped up with a pleasant clean design.


MIMA’s concept is fundamentally inspired by the traditional Japanese house, the perfect paradigm for lightness, flexibility, comfort and pleasing lines. The restrained order of its standardized building parts appealed to MIMA architects as the hallmark of a deeply rooted culture, confirmed over centuries and easily adaptable to any new development.

MIMA uses prefabricated construction methods, the secret for its quick production and low price. Likewise, traditional Japanese residential post-and-beam construction could be considered inherently a system of prefabrication: it was based on regularized column spacing known as the ken, the infill elements of shoji screens, fusuma panels and tatami mats, prefabricated by individual craftsmen in various locations of Japan could be precisely put together almost like pieces of a puzzle.


MIMA consists of a square post-and-beam structure completely glazed on all sides, subdivided by modular 1,5mx3m wooden frames. MIMA houses come with additional plywood panels which can be placed on the inside and the outside of the building, for a replacement of any window by a wall in a matter of seconds.

The inside is defined by a regular grid of 1,5m, whose intermediate lines leave gaps for internal walls to be added when needed. Again, in a matter of seconds, a subdivided space can be replaced by an open space or vice versa. Moreover, each side of internal and external walls can have a different color/finishing, which allows a dramatic change through a simple wall rotation.

Interface Despite its standardized construction methods, MIMA houses can be customized in so many parameters, that you’ll hardly see two equal houses.


MIMA houses can be tested and customized any time at MIMAhousing. A 3D software developed by MIMA’s architects and software engineers allows a recognition of your site through Google Earth and generates an automatic 3D model for a realistic perception of the house and site space and consequent adaptation/customization. After defining all parameters – external walls, internal divisions, finishes – a MIMA model scale 1:50 and a book with all the building specifications will be sent to your home address.”

Photos by: Jose Campos