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Futuro, the house from the future

Futuro, the house from the future
Futuro, the house from the future

Created by Finnish designer Matti Suuronen, Futuro remains the archetype of the science fiction house and has become a veritable icon of utopian architecture.
The symbol of a prosperous era through which blew a wind of freedom, Futuro embodies the optimism of the 1960s, a resolutely future-facing era. From fashion to design, the creations of the time focused on an innovative ideal: the conquest of space and a new lifestyle in which Man would live on Earth, and the Moon. Women dressed in Courrège and plastics, pop colours, and round and geometric shapes were to be found in all interiors. Shapes and materials bent to the whims of their creators' boundless imaginations, with incredible results.
It was in this era that visionary Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed the Futuro House in 1968, initially to be used as a mobile ski cabin: a kind of futuristic chalet that could be towed to the top of the pistes and set down on the mountain slope. The cabin was intended to be easy to move, and was therefore lightweight, easy to assemble and disassemble, and adequately insulated to keep out the cold. 
It made perfect sense, therefore, for the future-facing architect to build his "UFO" out of plastic, the most promising material of the era - affordable, lightweight and resistant, malleable, insulating and able to take on any shape and colour.
The elliptical Futuro house is made from fibreglass-reinforced polyester and is eight metres wide by four metres tall, weighing in at 400 kilos and sits on a metal base. A ring of 20 oval windows further reinforces the extra-terrestrial aesthetic. A retractable staircase grants access to a 50 m² space comprising a bedroom, a small bathroom, a kitchen, a living room and a wall lined with a long curved sofa designed to be converted into beds for six. The final stroke of genius is that it can be easily assembled and disassembled into 16 assembled  modules.
A run of around one hundred Futuro houses was produced and sold as the ideal mobile holiday home. 
The oil crisis of 1973 put an end to the infatuation with plastics and sounded the death knell for the Futuro concept which suddenly became too expensive to manufacture.
There only remain around sixty Futuro houses, scattered around the world, most of which have been either abandoned or reconverted, although some have been renovated and are inhabited by die-hard fans.
One of them is currently being celebrated at the Friche de l’Escalette in Marseille, as part of the Utopie Plastic exhibition paying tribute to the futuristic plastic habitats of the early 1970s. An avant-garde work of art, it now embodies the spirit of the 1960s and the era's desire for freedom, mobility and a new way of life. Like an UFO from beyond the stars, it remains a fascinating object.

© Christian Baraja



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