Recently for the first time I went to visit a Futuro building. The Futuro is a prefabricated plastic flying saucer shaped house designed by Matti Suuronen in 1968 for use as a ski lodge. It wasn’t that successful at the time maybe only 60 being manufactured until it was canceled in 1973 in the face of the world oil crisis. However since then the Futuro has developed a status not just in Finnish design circles but globally and online.
Emma purchased Futuro 001 last year and have wasted no time in preserving and exhibiting it and it is their one I went to see. They made a great purchase saving a modern design classic for posterity but also what will probably turn out to be a shrewd purchase for the museum.
So the first thing that struck me when I went in was the open fire in the center, and, apart from the toilet the fact that there is only one room. This is not a new way of living…..infact it may be the oldest archetype there is, fire in the centre, eating living and sleeping places in one space round the fire. It is almost exactly like a Kota or Laavu both well known tent type forms in Finland but used almost all over the world in modified form and under different names.
But the Futuro at least for a time was seen as Futuristic or at least modern and definitely utopian.
“Futuro was a rare item, so that architects, at least in the Finnish architecture have never done at other times a product, which was accompanied so strongly by its contemporary image of the world, utopian, progressive and fashionable image of the world.” (Nyman & Poutasuo 2004, 144)1
As Justin McGuirk pointed out in the Guardian the building is as close as Architecture ever comes to product design, it also fits in well with the idea of house-as-gadget mechanisation of the home that happened in the 60′s. It’s a radical utopian ideal all about the future…and yet look at it again with a different set of glasses on…try and live in it, you’d pretty much be living the same way as you would if you’d bought a wooden kota.
So why wasn’t the Futuro at least more successful in Finland? I’m not sure but what Justin McGuick seems right to me;
When the original owner of cabin 001, Matti Kuusla, installed it on the wooded shore of Lake Puulavesi, it caused a local outcry. Suuronen’s capsule was far from their idea of the perfect country cottage, because the whole point of country cottages was nostalgic ruralism – the back-to-nature birch-whipping in the sauna that was their escape from the city and its encroaching plastic futurism.
The image of the Future that Futuro was selling was directly at odds with the escapism of returning to nature in popular Finnish culture. It didn’t matter that it functioned much like a very basic finnish mokki it didn’t look like one, then it wasn’t one.
EMMA’s first Futuro exhibition is called Back to the Futuro. The name captures really well that understanding we now have that this future was and always will be a kind of fantasy that tells us much more about that time then about what will be. The passage of time has helped the Futuro, it’s turned it from revolutionary product design prefab into a kind of vintage futurised past a simple, beautiful idea you can now go and visit or check out in facebook of course…..
- Sourced from Anna-Maija’s 204 Futuro no.001 excelent theseis pg.19. [↩]