The Futuro House, in all its space age retro splendor, is like a physical manifestation of 1960s optimism. Shaped like the Hollywood idea of a flying saucer, the Futuro is a plastic, prefabricated, portable vacation home built to easily adapt to any climate or terrain, from mountain slopes to the seaside. After enjoying a heyday in the late ‘60s and early '70s, the remaining Futuros are now scattered across all parts of the globe, from the Australian beaches to the mountains of Russia, like secluded relics of midcentury technoutopianism.
The Futuro was a product of its times: when Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed the little alien-looking abodes in 1968, the postwar economic boom was in full swing, time-saving home gadgets promised a leisure-filled vision of the future, and society was transfixed by the Space Race. Spaceship architecture was in vogue, but nothing hit the nail on the head quite like these UFO houses. Ironically, that may be what ultimately led to the Futuro’s failure.
in 1978, Finnish architect Matti Suuronen (1933-2013) was commissioned to design a group of 36 centrally-planned vacation houses, financed by a local executive in the plastics industry, in the seaside town of Shanzhi, outside of New Taipei City, Taiwan. Known for his space-age Venturo and Futuro Houses of the 1960s, Suuronen pioneered the use of plastic, polymer resins and fibreglass supported by reinforced concrete, as well as prefabricated, modular units, in residential architecture. Although the project was nearly complete, in 1980, construction was halted when the developer went bankrupt .
The project languished until 1989, when a group of real estate speculators bought the property with the intention of finishing the houses, but they too went bust. In the decades that followed, the unfinished, abandoned structures fell into disrepair and were vandalized, but the their striking appearance, which was highly unusual for the region, became a favorite destination of photographers of “future” ruins. The UFO houses were also used as locations in dystopic films and several music videos.
Despite the site’s growing cult popularity, Suuronen’s stature and the architectural significance of his designs–not to mention their failure to obtain permission from the three banks that owned the property, the local government voted to demolish the UFO Houses in 2009 and in 2010 they were razed, as are many noteworthy buildings from the 1970s that have yet to attain historic monument status.
Sir any Space or any Universe inspired architecture there?
I think that the architecture considered space inspired is really inspired in an idealistic vision of the future that was popular in the 1950s like the
Futuro House by Matti Suuronen, the TWA Flight Center or Trans World Flight Center, by Eero Saarinen for Trans World Airlines at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and The Theme Building at the Los Angeles International Airport, built in 1961 that are typically identified as Googie, Architecture of the Space Age.
There is also a renewed interest in thinking of opportunities for future habitats in other planets, rather than architecture inspired by space something that could truly be called space exploration architecture, as demonstrated by the recent competition by NASA to design 3D-printed habitats that could help future astronauts live on Mars.