Cabin-sized spaceship houses are spotted like Easter eggs on a road trip, but their numbers are dwindling. Only 19 of these Futuro buildings are left standing in the United States. Some are lovingly preserved, while others stand out like eyesores—abandoned and covered in graffiti.
Spaceship House Design
Originally designed by Matti Suuronen in 1968 to be a ski cabin, some thought that the Futuro also had potential to aid the world’s housing issues. By design, the Futuro is light and easy to transport. Sixteen prefabricated segments are pre-assembled and transported or assembled on site. The construction was as simple as bolting the segments together. The concrete piers made it easy to place in any terrain. As a portable ski chalet, the futuristic Futuro also needed to be energy efficient. The spaceship-like shape is perfect for quick heating and heat retention. Cheap and easy construction tempted developers to create a similar production line house, so Oy Polykem Ab in Finland began manufacturing, distribution, and marketing.
Dependent on Oil
Oil was cheap, and fiberglass reinforced plastic made for a cost effective building material. While plastic was so affordable and easy to work with, it also had great insulating characteristics. In addition to polyurethane insulation, an electric heating system heated the house from -20° F to 60° F in 30 minutes. The spaceship homes had about 500 square feet of living space, and used small sections of wall to separate living spaces. However, not all of the neighbors were fans of the Futuros. The first Futuro house in Finland looked too unnatural for the rustic environment. In the United States, some zoning regulations would not allow the design. About 100 Futuro houses made it through manufacture before the oil crisis of 1973. When the cost of materials tripled, the Futuro business model no longer worked.
Roadside Spaceship Houses
The futuristic Futuro building materials are clearly withstanding the test of time in their environments. The neglected Futuros still stand strong. Look for them alongside roads, mounted on buildings, and peeking eerily through the trees. With several of the Futuros situated in California, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey, they make great stops on a road trip.
Futuristic Futuro Preservation
While a majority of the preserved Futuros are outside of the United States, several are still standing here. Being so easy to transport, owners of these spaceship houses have taken them all over the country. At least two of the known “Space Banks” marketed Futuros for commercial space. A list of the remaining Futuros is carefully maintained by the site owners at The Futuro House, the place to find information for everything Futuro. It’s even possible to get a taste of actual Futuro spaceship house living by renting one for short stays in Joshua Tree, California!
Curious about the inspiration behind the Joshua Tree vacation rental? Check out The Futuro is Here: Exploring the Futuro House.
And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Mid Century Modern inspiration!