A Futuro house is a round, prefabricated house designed by Matti Suuronen, of which fewer than 100 were built during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The shape, reminiscent of a flying saucer, and the structure’s airplane hatch entrance has made the houses sought after by collectors. The Futuro is composed of fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic, polyester-polyurethane, and poly, measuring 4 meters (13 feet) high and 8 meters (26 feet) in diameter.
The Futuro house was a product of post-war Finland, reflecting the period’s faith in technology, the conquering of space, unprecedented economic growth, and an increase in leisure time. It was designed by Suuronen as a ski cabin that would be “quick to heat and easy to construct in rough terrain”. The end result was a universally transportable home that had the ability to be mass replicated and situated in almost any environment.
The material chosen for the project — fibreglass-reinforced polyester plastic — was familiar to Suuronen and was previously used in the design of a large plastic dome for the roof of a grain silo in Seinäjoki. To facilitate transport, the house consisted of 16 elements that were bolted together to form the floor and the roof. The project could be constructed on site, or dismantled and reassembled on site in two days, or even airlifted in one piece by helicopter to the site. The only necessity on site for its placement were four concrete piers, so the project could occupy nearly any topography. Due to the integrated polyurethane insulation and electric heating system, the house could be heated to a comfortable temperature in only thirty minutes, from -29 to 15 °C (-20 to 60 °F).
An excerpt from a February 1970 copy of Architecture d’aujourd’hui describes “Futuro” as:
“the first model in a series of holiday homes to be licensed in 50 countries, already mass-produced in the United States, Australia and Belgium. The segments of the elliptic envelope are assembled on the site using a metal footing. Through its shape and materials used, the house can be erected in very cold mountains or even by the sea. The area is 50 sq m, the volume 140 cubic m, divided by adaptable partitions.”
By the mid-1970s, the house was taken off the market. From the beginning, it had been met with public hostility. The first Futuro that was erected near Lake Puulavesi in Finland elicited public protest because it looked too unnatural for the rustic environment.
In the United States, Futuro houses were banned from many municipalities by zoning regulations. Banks were reluctant to finance them. Some were vandalized. Some customers who committed to buy them backed out and forfeited their non-refundable $1,000 deposits. Some have been destroyed. In 1999, the city of Tampa ordered a Futuro demolished. Shortly after the turn of the century, a Futuro house was purchased on Broadkill Beach, Delaware, and destroyed to make way for a double-wide modular home. Some have been vandalized in drive-by shootings.
The oil crisis of 1973 tripled gasoline prices and made the manufacture of plastic more expensive. Fewer than 100 were made and it is estimated that today around 60 of the original Futuro homes survive, owned mostly by private individuals. The prototype (serial number 000) is in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The Futuro no. 001, the only other Futuro currently in a public collection, is in the possession of the WeeGee Exhibition Centre in Espoo, Finland.