Futuro - a space age dwelling

22.3.2018

P1200890.JPG

The yellow spacecraft in the backyard of the WeeGee exhibition centre in Espoo was launched in 1968.

P1200885.JPG

Designed by architect Matti Suuronen, the Futuro House was meant to serve as a ski chalet or summer cabin. The concept was ultra-modern in all possible ways, not just the space age aesthetics. The elliptic bubble was made of novel material, fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic. It stood on metal legs adjustable to almost any degree of slope. Weighing just 4000 kg it could be transported by helicopter to places lacking proper roads.

P1200881.JPG

The four meter high bubble was eight in diameter and had a floor area of 50 square metres. Six lounge chairs could be converted into beds.

A central fireplace provided heating and could also be used for grilling food. The bubble was equipped with a kitchenette and a toilet cum washroom.

P1200884.JPG

P1200886.JPG

Besides yellow, Futuro Houses came in white and pale blue. The low-placed windows enabled to observe wild life below the bubble.

P1200880.JPG

The flying saucer effect is enhanced by the hatch-door and stair-ladder entrance.

Futuro features as a spacecraft in the Jimi Tenor music video Year of the Apocalypse (1999).

P1200887.JPG

After the prototype in 1968, a few dozen Futuro Houses were produced in Finland or on license elsewhere. The idea of mass production and low production cost withered away when the oil crisis increased the price of plastic in the mid-70s. Another prefabricated plastic house designed by Suuronen, the Venturo, was similarly short-lived.

The Futuro House prototype is on display in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

P1200889.JPG

The Futuro House in WeeGee is # 1, the first one produced after the prototype. It served as a summer cabin in Finland for more than forty years, until purchased by the City of Espoo in 2011. The house was carefully restored - even the worn-out window sealing strips were replaced with original 1960s style material.

P1200883.JPG

The Futuro House in the backyard of the WeeGee centre can be visited in the summer period. In winter time it can only be admired through the windows of the exhibition space.

Futuro House # 2 served for a long time as a petrol station caff in Lahnajärvi on the Helsinki-Turku highway (current road 110). I was greatly impressed by the flying saucer design when stopping in Lahnajärvi back in the 60s. Lahnajärvi service and rest area was founded for the Helsinki summer Olympics in 1952, as some of the football matches took place in Turku. When the current national # 1 motorway was finished clients abandoned the old service area. A new owner tried to revive the place put was recently forced to close down.

P1200882.JPG

Weather-beaten Futuro Houses have been found in countries around the world and some well-preserved houses have been on sale, for example at Christie’s in Paris in 2007 and in New Zealand in 2017.

P1200891.JPG

The book Futuro (Desura 2011) by Marko Home and Mika Taanila comes with a DVD containing a 29 minute documentary (Taanila 1998) on the Futuro concept.

Genuine 1960s clips on the Futuro House can be viewed in the Finnish broadcasting company YLE’s “Living Archive”.