Futuro Houses: prefab space kitsch

Here's a terrific article in the New York Times about Futuro houses.

The circular house, 11 feet high and 26 feet across, was designed by Matti Suuronen, a Finnish architect, in 1968. A hatch door in its lower half opened down to reveal steps, like the door of a small airplane, and led into a room outfitted with six plastic bed-chair combinations and a central fireplace slab, as well as a kitchenette and a bathroom. Photographs from the time make the house look like a place where the Teletubbies might live, with Barbarella as a frequent houseguest.

Mika Taanila, a Finnish filmmaker who helped start the Futuro revival with his 1998 documentary "Futuro: A New Stance for Tomorrow," said he became interested in the houses because they seemed to represent the mood of the late 1960's so precisely. They reflected the era's "economic boom and optimism about the future," he said in a telephone interview from Finland. "Suuronen could not have come up with the idea 15 years earlier or 10 years later."

Part of that optimism was about the potential for plastics and prefabrication to radically lower the cost of housing, in the revolutionary spirit of 1968. The Futuro, which was made of polyester plastic and fiberglass and which sold in the United States for between $12,000 and $14,000, was one of many experimental plastic houses at the time. It came in 16 pieces that could easily be moved by truck or helicopter and set up in a couple of days.

Link to story. Image above: a Futuro house owned by Richard Pisani — who uses it as a home theater. Shot by Peter Thompson for the NYT.

Here's a review of the book Futuro: Tomorrow's House from Yesterday, by Marko Home and Mika Taanila. You can buy it here.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Futuro House: better living from the Gernsback Continuum
Relocation of Futuro-House