Design note

The Futuro House was designed in 1968 by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. It was commissioned as a "holiday house" or vacation home and as it would be used in a mountainside setting, the structure needed to be easy to transport to the site, low maintenance, quick to heat and shed snow easily. Suuronen has often cited mathematics and not the utopian ideals of the then emerging space age as the inspiration for the Futuro. Having tried several similar forms, eventually it was the perfectly 2:1 proportioned ellipse he settled upon for the form for both its structural and aesthetic potential. Attempting to remove the idea of ‘design’ from the Futuro, the ellipse was to be repeated as frequently as possible throughout the structure - finding its form in windows, doorways, handles, light apertures, and various other nuances. The contract for production with given to a Helsinki based company called Polykem, and the first prototype was built in early 1968 although only when the third one was manufactured was the name “Futuro” born. Interior specifications varied as each one could be purchased either as just a shell, or with various modular interior elements. The most commonly accepted interior specification is of an entrance hall, bathroom, kitchenette, living area with open fireplace and six seat-bed’s, and a bedroom/dressing room. The Futuro’s own worldwide popularity was due initially to it being exhibited in London in 1968 as part of the FinnFocus fair, however its success was short lived and by the mid 1970s the house was taken off the market. From the beginning it had been met with some 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 and some were even vandalised.The oil crisis of 1973 tripled gasoline prices and made manufacture of plastic extremely expensive. It is estimated that today around 60 of the original Futuro homes survive, owned mostly by private individuals however the prototype (serial number 000) is in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Futuro number 22 was purchased in South Africa in April 2013 by Artist Craig Barnes and shipped 12,000 miles to the UK for restoration. We were contacted by Craig to assist in the refurbishment project and together we identified a vacant agricultural building in rural Herefordshire as being the ideal base as its dimensions were just sufficient to fit a fully constructed Futuro house in. During the refurbishment works we researched the most appropriate refurbishment techniques and assisted in locating missing components across the world which could be purchased and restored or copied and returned to their owners. We also provided Craig with a general project management role which involved the integration of several local artisan companies, from glass fibre specialists to steel frame fabrication, perspex window suppliers and finally the paint restoration and spraying. Alongside the refurbishment work we provided CAD drawings and 3D visualisations to assist Craig in finding a first UK home for the Futuro. In October 2014 the Futuro was lifted onto its bespoke stillage on an articulated lorry in readiness for its first landing. For details of the first landing please refer to the Matt’s Gallery project. The refurbishment process and details of the first UK landing of the Futuro was featured on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces.