Architecture: Mobile housing

(February 2010) It’s not a snail house but Granihouse does have some similarity to one: the living area is a mere 48 m² and completely furbished. When moving, the entire house can be loaded on a truck-bed and whisked to a new location.

The Ponte de Lima based Graniminho Company in Portugal’s northern region has been marketing the product for roughly one year now and is not complaining about lack of demand. Most orders come from neighboring Spain. „But we have delivered houses to France, too”, says Orlando Ribeiro, „even Scandinavians have shown interest.“

That may seem far fetched since the houses have only 20 cm thick walls (24 t total mass) and are built on steal beams. But they seem quite suited for a life in the warm southerly climes, for which they were conceived in the first place, i.e. as weekend homes, beach or mountain houses or as sheds for gardening equipment. „We also have the option to build in additional insulation for colder climates“, according to Ribeiro. The exterior siding is local Ponte de Lima granite.

The price is set around 60,000 € turnkey furbished and including transportation and installation. That corresponds to 1,250 €/m². Four models are available. The mini house has 32 m² surface. Many custom fittings are possible such as solar cells on the roof. There is also a building dubbed „Office“.

Three months elapse from a placed order to finished product. The transportation is organized by the company as is the connection to water and electricity on site. The back side of the building is equipped with the fixtures for easy connection. No foundation is necessary, just a solid, level surface. The house can be installed on pillars if desired.

Not only the bargain price and the mobility of the houses are advantageous at least in Portugal: in some areas the houses are exempt from municipal or real-estate tax.


Similar products are being marketed by the Greek Lithorama company. One of their products is a pre-fab chapel.



While we’re on the topic of snail houses, Australian scientists have discovered an unusual and amazing behaviour in octopi. These highly intelligent animals use coconut shells which have fallen in the water, to hide and protect themselves. If disturbed or discovered they whisk their houses away and flee lock stock and barrel (Video). To scientists the use of tools and foresight was thought to be unique to birds and mammals. The octopus, however, forces biologists to review their preconception of invertebrates.