The youth duo designs sustainable houses that are composed like Legos surroundings

The houses designed by Rafael Freitas and Renato Fernandes are designed in 3D, the lightweight steel parts made in 24 hours have an instruction manual and the assembly is done with screws – in a week.

The 30-year-old architect and the 32-year-old building contractor decided to start a construction company made up of “houses that are built like Legos and can help save the planet”. The prototype of the “fast and 100% ecological” meeting house came to life this month in the Lavradas parish in Ponte da Barca and should be ready by summer.

“Cement or bricks, cranes and water are not used. In the end it is a construction that is as safe as traditional houses, with the great advantage of being ecological, and that is the future, ”explained Renato Fernandes. Rafael Freitas “designs the structure piece by piece in 3D and delivers the project to a factory that cuts it to size with the correct holes for the screws using a steel profile machine”. “Basically, it comes into the factory with a pen and puts the pen in the machine that prints the parts. The parts are packed automatically, there is an instruction manual for each component of the building and general instructions, ”says Rafael Freitas.

In addition to the “solution”, the company would also like to offer the assembly service. “If people feel they can assemble the structure themselves, that’s fine, although the project always has to be accompanied by a certified construction company. However, the company also intends to offer the assembly service as it is simple but not like assembling furniture for example, ”he said.

The DAÇO company, which the two young entrepreneurs founded in the Viana do Castelo district at a time of the pandemic, is not yet “formally constituted”, but has the passive house construction system (standard for the energy efficiency of buildings whose footprint is reduced) ” had good feedback “. “We have already received 13 budget requests, one from Viseu,” emphasized Rafael Freitas.

“We don’t invent anything. Constructive innovation is not our company. In Portugal, light steel framming (LSF) has been used for inexpensive prefabricated structures for several years. Our idea was to rethink the construction in Portugal and combine light steel with a response to luxury apartments, ”emphasized the architect.

The solution relies on “thermal comfort in order to meet the NZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Building) regulation, which will force buildings to consume practically zero due to climate change”. “Not only is light steel a much more rigorous work in terms of cost, as it is sold in kilograms, but it is also assembled in record time. The ecological footprint is much smaller than the traditional system, considering that the structure is 100 is% recyclable, “said the architect.

At the end of its lifespan, “the building can be dismantled and recycled component by component with complete separation, since screws are used instead of adhesives and mortar”. “With this type of construction, we have significantly reduced the carbon emissions of a traditional building process while being a collapsible and recyclable structure that can take on new life,” argued the architect.

Renato Fernandes, who has a coating company, realized that in the Viana do Castelo district, the new building model “could be a business opportunity to explore”. The idea was the subject of a “conversation in a café” in 2020, “at the height” of the Covid 19 pandemic, motivated “by the great difficulty of finding qualified workers” in the construction sector.

The game became “Serious Business” with the first general restriction adding to its maturation and becoming a business that took shape from September. “In the middle there was research, market studies and investments in training in the region, and now we are doing the zero house, where we will put the knowledge we have gained into practice. Learn and correct the mistakes we are going to make so that by summer we will be prepared for the production of the budget houses we requested, ”explained Renato.