The Futuro House

The Futuro House was conceived by Matti Suuronen in 1968 as a "portable" ski chalet. It is an iconic piece of architecture and this site is devoted to documenting the history of the Futuro and the current status and whereabouts of the remaining examples.





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Location Information

TheFuturoHouse - Austin, TX, 091314

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA

  • Location | Austin, Texas, USA (Vicinity Only - Exact Location Withheld)
  • Lat/Long | Exact Location Withheld
  • Image By TheFuturoHouse.com | 091314
  • Google Maps | 062113 (Screenshot Only - Exact Location Withheld)
  • Latest Confirmation | 101919
Info, History, Photos


Update 102019

To steal a comment from d369 on a recent Instagram post "Coolness overload". A bunch of Tesla owners on a rally recently stopped by the Austin Futuro. Our thanks to owner Ira for sharing these photos.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Tesla Rally 1

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Tesla Rally 2

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Tesla Rally 3

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Tesla Rally 4

Update 041319

The King Land & Water listing for the Yates Cattle and Conservation Ranch has now ended and the property and the Futuro remains "as is" for now.

Update 123017

We have always been a dog lovers and so we particularly enjoyed this photo that was recently posted to Instagram by churchill_thebulldog.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Churchill The Bulldog - 122217

Update 051017

After failing to sell after some 6 months or so on the market the asking price for the Yates Cattle and Conservation Ranch (which includes this Futuro) has now been reduced by a little over 20% to $7,200,000.

Update 101516

So you would like to own a Futuro? Have a cool $9,240,000 to spare? Then this is for you! King Land & Water have just listed the Yates Cattle and Conservation Ranch, a 385 acre property in the Texas Hill Country for sale. The listing describes the property this way:

"There is a property in the Hill Country where the bedded limestone strata and the historic layers of time come together to create a place like no other. Only 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Yates Cattle and Conservation Ranch's name says it all: a marriage of rich Texas ranching heritage with an array of unique natural resources in a protected, quiet world all its own. Saltlick is just minutes away, and the amazing restaurants of Austin are a mere short ride away down MoPac Boulevard, immersing you in the culture of music, food, art, nature, and outdoor recreation that makes Austin one of the most popular cities in the U.S.

Here, nature balances with activity, livestock with big city lights, and people with solitude. The ranch is centrally-located just southwest of downtown Austin on Bear Creek, fronting on northbound side of Highway 45 where it turns into South MoPac. Nestled into this amazing natural setting is a ranch where cattle, deer, neo-tropical songbirds, bats, turkey, people exist together in a balanced ecosystem for nature and man. Enter the ranch and enjoy the tranquility of nature at its best with immediate access to all the amenities of Austin. Location and beauty makes this ranch exceptional.
"

The property includes several improvements and among them is the Austin Futuro. So, not even a need to find a "home" for your new Futuro and deal with the complications and difficulties of relocating one. As an added bonus there is also the "Dome", a second "futuristic" structure, on the property (see photos below).

We are by no means wealthy but we are fortunate enough to have a good jobs, live a reasonably comfortable life and only infrequently feel the wish for "more". This however is one of those infrequent times where a tinge of jealousy for those more fortunate surfaces, even if only for a short time. Were we among the ultra-rich we could certainly see ourselves going for this; a pretty awesome property (we visited the property in 2014 so we speak with the voice of experience), a fantastic location that gives the feel of country despite its proximity to city and a Futuro included - what could be better?

Full information about the offering can be found in the King Land & Water listing which includes descriptions, photos, maps and a slideshow. A "packet" containing most of these can be downloaded here.

The photos and video below show the Austin Futuro, the "Dome" which is also located on the property and a video slideshow which includes other photos of the property.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo from 2016 For Sale Packet - King Land & Water

The Dome - Photo from 2016 For Sale Packet - King Land & Water - 1

The Dome - Photo from 2016 For Sale Packet - King Land & Water - 2


Update 092014

On 091314 we had the opportunity to visit the Austin Futuro; in addition to seeing and photographing the Futuro we were also able to look through a collection of original papers, drawings and plans associated with the Futuro that Ira, the owner, had kept. We would like to thank Ira, and Terry who also accompanied us, for spending time with us, chatting about Futuros and allowing us to photograph some of the archived papers.

The photos below provide a great look at this rarely photographed Futuro (and yes the "obligatory tourist photo" is included!). The first set of photos show the exterior of the Futuro. The exterior finish is in rather good condition. The window configuration is the most common US configuration of 16 windows around the circumference of the unit with two lower viewing windows.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 1

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 2

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 3

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 4

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 5

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 6

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 7

This Futuro is notable in that it is mounted on 8' legs, much higher than "normal" but it retains the standard entry/door. An additional set of concrete steps is installed and the door lowers to the top of this set of steps. The door mechanism is not original and was replaced some time ago; it is controlled (from outside the Futuro) by means of a switch installed in the "tube" under the unit.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 8

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 9

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 10

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 11

Despite the fact that the Austin Futuro has never been moved the joins between upper and lower hemispheres do show signs of deterioration as do the factory sealed joins between adjacent sections of each hemisphere.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 12

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 13

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 14

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 15

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 16

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Photo Taken 091314 - 17

The Austin Futuro was purchased in 1970 and has remained on the same site since. Ira's mother was very interested in all things "space" and "futuristic", as were many people at that time, and the family took a trip to the Futuro Corporation in Philadelphia to look at the Futuro with a view, at that time, to purchasing two of the units.

In the end only one Futuro was purchased; "Ira's Pod", and a different but similarly constructed "dome" was purchased for Ira's mother (which also still remains). Ira recalls how the Futuro they visited in Philadelphia was actually different in several ways from the one that was eventually installed in Austin. For example the unit in Philadelphia featured doorways with the "hatch style' seen in the original Finnish models where you would have to step over the lip at the bottom when passing through but the unit installed featured traditional doors with the bottom being flush with the floor.

In talking with Ira it became apparent that there was a great deal of opportunity for the customization of Futuros; mainly the internal fixtures and fittings but also the window configuration, the support struts and so on. We always knew that there were some options to customize but did not realize quite the extent to which that was offered.

The document shown below is a Fact Sheet about Futuro II, "Facts On The Futuro II Fiber-Glass House", and it lists some of the items that were available for customization (this document is very similar, but not identical, to this Star Enterprises, Janesville, Wisconsin one which was sent to us some time ago by the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville).

Among the customization options listed are the window configuration, additional or fewer or operable being among the options, differing lengths of support legs and the ability to "cluster" units by the use of interlocking sections.

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Futuro Facts Page 1

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Futuro Facts Page 2

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Futuro Facts Page 3

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Futuro Facts Page 4

This set of four drawings is a further illustration of the ability to customize; they show various aspects of the interior configuration of the Futuro being constructed for Ira and we can also see notes made by Ira's mother "discussing" further options and requirements. Ira tells us that the unit as installed matched these drawings very closely.

Austin Futuro Drawings - 1

Austin Futuro Drawings - 2

Austin Futuro Drawings - 4

Austin Futuro Drawings - 3

The letter below from the Futuro Corporation of Philadelphia Vice President Stanley H. Blumenthal, dated 042170, details the final delivered configuration of "Ira's Pod".

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Purchase Letter Page 1

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Purchase Letter Page 2

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA - Purchase Letter Page 3

"Ira's Pod" ended up costing $14,975 as customized. Several modifications are listed in the letter including:
The Austin Futuro has a window configuration that includes the most common US configuration of 16 windows around the circumference of the unit and two lower "viewing windows" rather than the four in two rows of two commonly found in the European Futuros. We only recall a single Futuro with upper viewing windows installed, the Futuro House in Frisco, NC.

Ira tells us that the reason for the 8' legs and the higher than normal mounting of the Futuro was so that you could view the skyline of downtown Austin from the Futuro. Some 44 years later the trees have done what trees do and grown and the Austin skyline is no longer visible from the Futuro.

The letter also indicates that while the Futuro House Corporation would supply "supervisors" for the installation of the Futuro the purchaser would be required to provide a crane and suitable work crew to undertake the actual work. As specified in the fact sheet above the Austin Futuro was delivered in two pre-assembled hemispheres (upper and lower sections were manufactured in 4 sections which were then mechanically joined and sealed). The two halves were joined and then the unit was hoisted by crane and the 4 support legs were installed and attached to the piers.

Futuro House - Austin - Manufacturer GuaranteeThe carpets and seating chosen for "Ira's Pod" were blue as indicated in the letter above. Among the many documents, letters, plans etc. preserved from "back in the day" Ira even kept a "swatch" of the fabrics chosen and a shot of this can be seen at left. "Basque Blue" was chosen for the carpet and the seating was covered in blue sailcloth described on the "swatch" as Peacock Blue #14.

The Futuro Corporation offered a one year warranty on the Futuro House with the internal fixtures and fittings being covered not by the Futuro Corporation but by the original manufacturer's. In addition any defects resulting from improper installation or occurring during transit were excluded. The latter point is notable in that it presumably indicated that the transportation of the unit was the responsibility of the purchaser. If the shipper, in this case Futuro Of Philadelphia, were responsible for the shipment then presumably they would cover damages occurring in transit.

Futuro House - Austin - Manufacturer GuaranteeA copy of the standard warranty can be seen at left.

Post delivery and installation Ira lived in the Futuro House for its first 18 months on site and he tells us that he has also lived in the unit at other times over the years; in total he has lived in the Futuro for something like 5 years.

The interior of the Futuro has seen several changes over the course of its life; the original fixtures and fittings are now gone and the Futuro is empty inside (hence the lack of interior photos, with an empty interior one Futuro House looks much like another).

That said it is interesting to note that despite spending its entire life on one site and thus never having been disassembled the Futuro shows the same signs of deterioration as other Futuros at the join between upper and lower hemispheres; this can be seen in some of the photos above. In addition even the upright joins between sections in the same hemisphere that were sealed at the time of manufacture show signs of deterioration.

The entrance door is fully functional and controlled (from the outside) by means of a switch installed in the "tube" under the Futuro. The mechanism by which the entrance door functions has been replaced and is not original.

Ira tells us that he is planning some further refurbishment work and is planning on investing in a new interior for the unit. What form that interior will take is currently undecided as Ira tries to balance the design between "restoration" and "modern functionality". We are eager to hear exactly what the decisions are and, Ira be warned, we will be "knocking on your door" once the work is done to see what the "new" Austin Futuro looks like.

Finally in addition to the various letters and documents Ira shared with us (we could not photograph them all, it would have taken too long, but perhaps Ira will permit us another visit sometime on the future) we were able to take photographs of a set of various plans and blueprints. These are listed below with photographs; clicking on the images of the plans will bring up higher res versions which are readable.

The first two plans listed are full size architectural "blueprints", the second two are smaller architectural drawings (that do not have the "blue" hue that presumably gives "blueprints" their name) and the remaining 5 are a set of copies of plans on smaller white paper; all are original and from the time the Futuro was purchased and installed.
Futuro II - Plans - Radial Steel Layout - 168 - 031470
Radial Steel Layout | Drawing # 168 | 031470

Futuro II - Plans - Electrical Plan - E1 - 050870
Electrical Plan | Drawing # E1 | 050870

Futuro II - Plans - Steel Plan - S-1 - 011470
Steel Plan | Drawing # S-1 | 011470

Futuro II - Plans - Floor Plan - A-1 - 010170
Floor Plan | Drawing # A-1 | 010170

Futuro II - Plans - Pier Details - PD-1 - 011470
Pier Details | Drawing # PD-1 | 011470

Futuro II - Plans - Electrical Plan - E1 - 010170
Electrical Plan | Drawing # E1 | 010170

Futuro II - Plans - Elevation & Section - A-2 - 011470
Elevation & Section | Drawing # A-2 | 011470

Futuro II - Plans - Heating & Ventilating - HV-1 - 010170
Heating & Ventilating | # HV-1 | 010170

Futuro II - Plans - Plumbing Plan - P-1 - 010170
Plumbing Plan | Drawing # P-1 | 010170

Original Information 062213

This week we received an email from the owner of a previously unknown (at least to us; we had never seen mention of it anywhere) Futuro House located in the vicinity of Austin, Texas.

To steal a quote from a car salesman - the Futuro has had "one careful owner". The owner tells us that the Futuro was purchased in 1970 (he still has the original purchase documents) and that it is still in use today.

We were able to locate the Futuro in Google Maps and the Google Maps screenshot above shows the Futuro as it appears in the latest imagery in Google Maps at full zoom. As expected Google Earth historical satellite imagery shows the Futuro on site as far back as the imagery goes; in this case 010695.

Since the owner has managed to keep this location private for over 40 years (at least from the internet community at large) despite the prying eyes of people like us we have chosen to keep the owner's name and the Futuro's exact location private. If at any point we are permitted to do so by the owner we will add the precise location information. In the meantime the Google Maps screenshot contains no information or detail that will identify the exact location.

Our thanks to the owner of the Austin Futuro for sharing this information and for sending us several photographs of the "new" Futuro.

Futuro, Austin, Texas - 1970's

Futuro, Austin, Texas - At Night

Futuro, Austin, Texas, USA

Sources
In Books & Magazines

None currently known.

Latest Confirmation

Personal correspondence with the owner 101919.

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