The Spaceship House
Back in the 1960s, space was all the rage. The United States and Soviet Union raced each other to the moon. Communications satellites shrunk the world. And new technologies promised a world of plenty and leisure.
One of the most unusual things inspired by the Space Age was the spaceship house. Designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, it resembled the round flying saucers that aliens have supposedly used to visit Earth.
The spaceship house, also known as Futuro, began to take shape in 1965 when Dr. Jaakko Hiidenkari asked Suuronen to design a ski cabin for him. The architect set about creating a house that could be easily transported to and assembled in rough terrain. It also needed to be warmed up quickly by arriving vacationers.
Suuronen selected a light but sturdy Space Age material called fiberglass reinforced polyester plastic to construct the spaceship house. The architect knew that this material had been used to build a large plastic dome for a grain silo in Seinäjoki.
The prefabricated spaceship house consisted of 16 separate elements that could be quickly bolted together in two days. The only thing that had to be constructed onsite were four piers to support the structure, which made Futuro ideal for almost any terrain. The house could be transported in pieces to the construction site, or it could be airlifted by a large helicopter.
The spaceship house, 11 feet high and 26 feet in diameter, could accommodate 8 people and featured beds, bathroom, kitchen and a central table. A portable "firebox" was used for cooking. The front door dropped down in the style of an alien spaceship.
Suuronen insulated his spaceship house with integrated polyurethane and installed an electric heating system. Futuro could be heated from -20 degrees to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in only 30 minutes.
The contract for producing the spaceship home was awarded to Polykem Ltd. of Helsinki. The first Futuro prototype, serial number 000, was completed in 1968.
Plans were made to mass produce the Futuro as inexpensive residences. From 1969 to 1973, manufacturing rights were sold to organizations in 25 countries, with production beginning in 10 nations.
Builders hoped to cash in on the spirit of the times. An increase in both wealth and leisure time made mobile living seem more possible. Fuel prices were also cheap. Thus, people would be able to take more vacations and even move their spaceship houses from place to place.
Alas, these Space Age ambitions soon came crashing down. The 1973 oil crisis tripled the cost of producing the plastic required to build the house and increased the cost of gasoline, making travel more difficult for many people.
Production of spaceship houses slowed around the world, reaching its end in Canada in 1979. Only 96 spaceship houses were ever built. Today, only about 50 Futuro homes still exist. The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, houses the prototype.
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