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London | Matti Suuronen’s Futuro House at Central Saint Martins

Place: London, Country: United Kingdom
Designer: Matti Suuronen
Owner: Craig Barnes
On view at: Central Saint Martins, London
Text by Riccardo Bianchini
Image credits: see bylines

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Futuro House no. 22 installed at Central Saint Martins in London; photo © John Sturrock

Matti Suuronen’s Futuro House on view at Central Saint Martins in London

An alien flying saucer has recently landed on the roof of a school in Central London.
It could be not incidental that that school is the Central Saint Martins and that the spaceship is actually a restored Futuro House, the futuristic abode designed in the Sixties by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen.

The history of Futuro House
Futuro House was initially developed by Suuronen in 1968 as a one-off mountain holiday home for a friend.
In order to facilitate construction works in a remote plot of land and installed on an uneven terrain, the architect designed it as a prefabricated egg-shaped building composed of 16 fiberglass segments bolted together, and a support structure constituted of four concrete piers and a concave steel frame. The “egg” was pre-assembled, delivered onto site by a helicopter, and fastened to the previously completed supporting structure.

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Futuro House plans

Futuro House, section, elevation, and plan; images courtesy of www.thefuturohouse.com

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The pre-assembled Futuro Houses were frequently delivered on site by an helicopter

Afterwards, Suuronen decided to manufacture a series of houses industrially; unfortunately, Futuro was not commercially successful, and its production ceased in the early ’70. Overall, about 80 to 100 houses were produced.

The Futuro House project is one of the most interesting examples of those futuristic homes which flourished in the ’50s and ’60s, and which include the Endless House by Frederick John Kiesler, the Emergency Mass Housing Units by Arthur Quarmby, the Maison Bulle by Jean-Benjamin Maneval, and the Domobiles by Pascal Häusermann, among others.

Such houses were not only futuristic in their forms, but were often intended by their creators as slivers of a more advanced, more equal, and presumably better society and way of life, which many believed were just under the corner, at the time.
A hopeful and a bit ingenuous vision of the future which will be somewhat destroyed in the mid Seventies by the consequences of the oil crisis and by a general worsening of the socioeconomic and political context.

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Vintage images of the Futuro House interiors

The Futuro no. 22 on view at Central Saint Martins
It is estimated that about 60 Futuros survive today, mostly in bad conditions. The one installed at the CSM, serial number 22, is owned by artist, and CSM graduate, Craig Barnes, who retrieved it in South Africa, and transported it to the UK for an 18-month-long restoration process.

The house in on loan since spring 2016 at the Central Saint Martins, installed on a rooftop in the school’s King Cross campus.
The Futuro is open to the public the first Wednesday of every month, and is also used for performances, curated programs, educational activities, lectures, symposiums, creative workshops, students’ meetings, and special events.

More information can be found at http://futuro-house-csm.arts.ac.uk
and http://www.craigbarnes.co.uk/

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A prototype of Futuro on view at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; photo: Lotte Stekelenburg

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Futuro House restoration

Barnes’ Futuro House no. 22 at various restoration stages; photos: Central Saint Martins / Craig Barnes

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Interior views of Futuro House no. 22; photos © John Sturrock courtesy of Central Saint Martins

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A Graphic Design lesson in the Futuro; photo courtesy of Central Saint Martins / Emily Wood

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Centre for Remote Possibilities / Futuro House installed at Matt’s Gallery / Acme Studios, London (2014 – 2015); courtesy of Craig Barnes




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