Futuro Houses, UFO houses from the 60s designed by Matti Suuronen

The '60s Spaceship Homes that Never Quite Took Off

The '60s Spaceship Homes that Never Quite Took Off

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Dec. 22 2014 11:48 AM

Futuro Houses: Otherworldly Homes For Earth-Bound Humans

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A Futuro House in Rockwall, Texas, photographed in 2003.

Photo: Steve Rainwater/Creative Commons

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The spaceship-style dwelling pictured above may appear to be a quirky anomaly, but it is actually one of a forgotten fleet.

In 1968, Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed a prefabricated building later dubbed the Futuro House. Initially intended to be used as a holiday home for skiers, the Futuro had an elliptical silhouette, measured 26 feet wide by 13 feet high, and stood on metal legs for stability. A ring of 20 oval windows added to the extraterrestrial aesthetic. A flip-down staircase granted access to the interior, which contained a bedroom, small bathroom, kitchen, dining area, and a wall lined with a long, curved couch designed to convert into a (very cosy) bed for six. A circular fireplace in the center screamed "space-age ski chalet."

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The Futuro House was made from fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic, a light, insulating material derived from oil. Homes made from this plastic could be transported easily and were quick to heat up—a major plus for skiers eager to doff their boots and get stuck into the fondue after a long day on the slopes.

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A Futuro floor plan, from a Delaware tourism brochure circa 1970.

Photo:Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis/Creative Commons

Futuros went into production in the late '60s. Marketing campaigns went beyond the ski chalet image and touted the Futuro as an adaptable housing solution for all climates and topography. Licensing deals allowed Futuros to be manufactured across the world, but consumer uptake was sluggish. 

Then came the oil crisis. In October 1973, an Arab oil embargo caused the price of oil to quadruple. Suddenly, Futuro Houses were no longer cheap to make. The dramatically increased costs, combined with a general lack of enthusiasm for the spaceship design, brought Futuro production to a halt.

Fewer than 100 of the homes were ever built. Today the surviving spaceships are, as Allison Meier writes on Atlas Obscura, scattered across the world—countries where they landed include the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. 

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Many of the remaining Futuros are quietly rusting away, but others have been lovingly restored and repurposed. As Meier discovered, Australia's University of Canberra has converted a Futuro into a study space, while a Tampa strip club uses its rooftop Futuro as a VIP room

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A Futuro House in Pensacola, Florida.

Photo: TimothyJ/Creative Commons

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A Futuro House in Milton, Delaware.

Photo: Nan Palmero/Creative Commons

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Futuro Houses near Germantown in Ohio.

Photo: Rob Lambert/Creative Commons

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A Futuro House at Raglan, on the North Island of New Zealand.

Photo: Anne-Lise Heinrichs/Creative Commons

Other extraterrestrial architecture around the world:

Correction, Dec. 30: The post's first photo caption originally misspelled Rockwall, Texas.

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.