Futuro House

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Photo: John Zimmerman / MFA
  • PlaceSeveral locations
  • Completion 1968
  • Decade1960s
  • PeriodThe rise of the welfare state
  • Year of selection2017


During the decades of technological progress and the belief in a better future that followed the Second World War, architects were enthusiastic about the serial production of buildings and new synthetic materials, especially plastics. From the 1950s onwards, prototypes of various plastic-based houses were put forward, but they remained mostly architectural curiosities.

Futuro was the world’s first serially-produced plastic house. Architect Matti Suuronen designed the house in 1965, after drawing up proposals for a friend for a ski cabin that could be easily erected on a sloping terrain and heated rapidly. With these ideas in mind, Suuronen developed a spheroid made from reinforced plastic, and which sits above the ground on legs made from welded steel tubes. The house is assembled by bolting together sixteen fibreglass reinforced polyester resin shell elements, prepared in moulds, with 4 cm polyurethane foam thermal insulation. Stress calculations were carried out by engineer Yrjö Ronkka. The prototype for Futuro was first presented to the press in March 1968 at the Polykem company plant in Vantaa.

The entrance into the Futuro house is via a hatch with built-in steps that opens up rather like on an aircraft. The original standard model comprises a kitchenette, a toilet and shower, a sleeping area and a lounge area. The lounge chairs surrounding the centrally placed fireplace open out to become beds. The floor area is only 25 m2, but the spheroid shape provides extra space in the lateral direction.

Inspired by Futuro’s positive international reception, Suuronen designed for Polykem also other mass-produced plastic buildings, the most famous of which was the Venturo house. Polykem sold licensed production rights around the world for both Futuro and Venturo. Production began in many countries with the intention that both plastic houses would be manufactured by the thousands. Production stagnated, however, due to the 1973 oil crisis. In addition to rising prices for plastics, Futuro sales were hampered by its high cost and distinctiveness. Probably the last Futuro was produced at the Polykem factory in 1978.

Although less than 100 Futuro houses were manufactured around the world – of which about 60 still exist – it has become a pop icon of the late 1960s. The preserved Futuro houses have become prized collectors’ items, and the two very first Futuro houses to have been built have been acquired for museum collections and thus conserved.

Futuro houses stand out as distinct objects in the landscape. The design was in its time regarded as ultra-modern and universally applicable, as is the case with cars and aeroplanes: the same factory-produced plastic house – a space-age machine for living in – could be taken anywhere on the planet.

Today Futuro houses remind us nostalgically about a time of optimism and the belief in progress, when man was conquering space and wanted to improve the quality of life with prefabricated plastic products.


Harri Hautajärvi

Hautajärvi, Harri (1998). ”Jalat irti maasta – pää pilvissä. Avaruusajan arkkitehtuuriutopioita / Feet off the Ground – Head in the Cloud. Architecture Utopias of the Space Age”. Arkkitehti 6/1998.
Home, Marko & Taanila, Mika (toim./ed.) (2002). Futuro. Tulevaisuuden talo menneisyydestä. Tomorrows House from Yesterday. Helsinki: Desura.
Ronkka, Yrjö & Suuronen, Matti (1969). ”Futuro. Loma-ajan asunto”. Arkkitehti 1/1969.