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.
We recently took a road trip to visit family but we were also able to take the opportunity to stop by some Futuros; Danvers, Carlisle and this one in Covington (this takes the count of Futuros we have personally visited to 15½).
At Danvers and Carlisle we were able to visit with the owners and get a view of the interior of the Futuros as well as take in the exterior. In the case of this Futuro that was not the case and we only have exterior shots from the street; however that was enough to learn something completely new about this Futuro (or more accurately that we had not noticed before - we have seen photos that show this detail but somehow never managed to actually notice what they showed).
All of the many shots from the street we have seen over the years (and our first photos) show a Futuro that appears to be mounted at a normal height from the ground. However if you look at photos 4 thru 8 below it is apparent that this is not the case.
Almost all Futuros are located on either a set of 4 concrete pilings or a concrete pad. In this case however there are long steel beams set in concrete pilings and the Futuros "feet" are mounted to the top of these beams.
The land is heavily sloped with the beams nearest the street being shorter than those further away. Nearest the street the beams are perhaps 10 feet in height. As best we can figure from memory (which is both aging and ailing far faster than we would like) and without going through and checking every unit we think this would make this the second highest mounted Futuro after Pöytyä even though, until now, we had no clue that was the case.
The wooden decking behind the Futuro is also mounted on steel beams and is not on the ground as can be seen in photo 8.
It seems apparent given all of the scaffolding and ladders that the Futuro is currently receiving some attention; not sure exactly what is being done or what might be planned but it will be interesting to see what of anything changes in the future.
We have always been fans of sunsets and sunrises and in the case of this visit we timed it to coincide with sunrise which allowed us to get several nice photos of the Futuro and the sunrise together as seen in the last couple of photos.
Back on 091016 we added a little information about a mural painted on a Covington area store that included an "impression" of the Futuro. Recently Jarrod Becker, the artist, sent us the photos below of some of the preparatory work he did prior to actually painting the mural; thanks Jarrod.
The article includes a single photo and this photo gives a good look at one of the unique features of this Futuro which was manufactured with 8 windows but ended up with 10 when owner Rob Detzel made several major alterations including the addition of two more windows and an extra entrance. In the photo below note the larger than normal spacing between the windows but then also the one pair that are close together.
The extra entrance was later sealed up again (as can be seen in this photo) and, while we have not seen a contemporary photo of Covington that actually shows the extra windows (or alternatively that they were sealed again like the entrance), we have no doubt this is a photo of the Futuro currently located in Covington dating from 1976.
In part the article reads "the first of several flying saucers has "landed" on a Northern Kentucky hillside overlooking Cincinnati". Given the date of the article and the fact that the Futuro was installed in its current location in 1987 (see the 110913 update and information from owner Rob Detzel) despite the description sounding very like the current location the photo is almost certainly a photo of a previous location in the Cincinnati area.
It seems that the Futuro House is being "memorialized" in a mural on the exterior of a Covington area Kroger store. The mural, named "Love the Cov", is based "on important elements that give the city its reputation". Obviously the Covington Futuro is one of those elements though the imagery it inspired within the mural is very clearly "general" and not identifiable as specifically relating to the Covington Futuro.
The original of the photo below and a little more information can be found on The River City News website.
Justin Dahan visited Covington 092615 and sent us this pair of photos; thanks Justin. The Futuro seems to be in pretty much the same condition as in earlier photos. The light over the entrance is an interesting little feature we had not noticed previously.
We often check back in Google Maps to see if locations have updated but we rarely if ever check to see if there is new Street View imagery as that seems to be updated very infrequently but the capture shown below has caused us to perhaps rethink that. The imagery has been updated since we last looked and the capture below is really a rather cool shot of the Futuro with the city in the background. Our thanks to Fabio who posted this shot on his blog La Freccia Ferma. There is also a nice collection of other street view captures of Futuros here along with many other interesting and varied shots from the Google Street View universe - well worth checking out.
Cincinnati radio station ClassX recently threw a party to celebrate the release of the Winter 2013 issue of their publication Live Magazine along with the celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Futuro. The party was hosted by Covington Futuro owner Rob Detzel at the Futuro. A digital copy of the magazine, which includes an article on the Futuro starting on page 14, is available online here (it can also be downloaded as a pdf file) and there are photographs and a video in a couple of posts on the ClassX Radio Facebook Pagehere and here.
The Live magazine article is very informative and adds some fascinating detail to the story of the Covington Futuro. In the article we learn the Rob Detzel first saw the Futuro in a 1973 issue of the magazine Family Circle. Detzel decided the Futuro could be a great marketing tool for his construction business and he contacted a gentleman by the name of Bob Hart to see if he could show a Futuro at his upcoming Home Show. To Detzel's surprise Hart asked how much Detzel would charge to show the Futuro and a deal was struck. All Detzel had to do now was to actually procure a Futuro to show.
Detzel formed I.F.O Promotions (see reference in the original information below) and arranged to meet with "Len Frockner" (almost certainly Leonard Fruchter) who was the main US licensee for the Futuro. Detzel is quoted as saying:
"I call him (Fruchter) to tell him I was interested and he says well come on up and we'll go drinking, and if I like you at the end of the night, I might sell you one, so I said, I can do that ... and I took off to Jersey"
Detzel goes on to recount how Fruchter had purchased molds and sufficient materials to construct eight Futuro's, the ones with only eight windows (for security reasons) to be used as banks in and around malls. Two had been placed by the time Detzel met with Fruchter.
That two Futuros had been placed, at Woodbridge Mall and Willingboro Shopping Center, is very interesting. We had always thought that one unit had moved from one location to the other and then ultimately ended up at the current Willingboro location but this suggests that there is another unaccounted for unit either yet to be relocated or destroyed sometime in the past. For sure none of the other US units other than this one and Willingboro we know about is of the eight window configuration.
"But he (Fruchter) had gotten drunk and was disgusted with them (space-banks) and had decided to burn all the extra material and break the molds by the time I got up there.
With two placed and four destroyed there were only two Futuros left when Detzel and Fruchter met; Detzel purchased a yellow Futuro. After making some modifications that included adding a second hatchway and cutting in two more windows (which makes this unit unique among Futuro's with two hatches and ten windows) the Futuro was displayed, as planned, at the Hart Productions Home Show. The Futuro clearly captured people imagination at the show; Detzel made over $4000 from selling 50 cent tours of the unit.
After the show the Futuro spent a few weeks at the nearby New Northgate Mall before stints on the Atlantic City boardwalk and at various home shows in the New York area. Eventually the Futuro was moved back to Kentucky in the mid 1980's and ultimately it ended up in its current location in 1987 where it remains to this day.
These photos from the recent party are displayed here courtesy of ClassX Radio.
The recent party at the Futuro hosted dual celebrations, the launch of the ClassX Live Magazine Winter 2013 issue and the 40th anniversary of the Futuro. In this video footage of the party at the Futuro we see Covington Mayor, Sherry Carran, proclaiming November 2nd 2013, the 40th anniversary of the Futuro, as "Futuro House Day". The mayor goes on to read a proclamation declaring the site of the Futuro as "Area 89" and she presents Detzel with the keys to the City Of Covington. The actual proclamation went as follows:
"Now therefore, I, Sherry Carran Mayor of the City of Covington, Kenton County, Kentucky, by virtue of the authority vested in me and on behalf of its Commission, do hereby proclaim Saturday, November 2, 2013, as "FUTURO HOUSE DAY" in the City of Covington and the site of the Futuro House is officially dubbed "Area 89."
Mike Fair captured this very atmospheric photo of the Covington Futuro 032413; the photo is displayed here with permission. Thanks Mike.
The image below taken by AnDy631 081905 and reproduced here with permission shows the Covington Futuro "Easter Egg"; a "Beam Me Up Scotty" plaque on the door, presumably an "homage" to Star Trek.
Original Information 090811
In 1973 Rob Detzel purchased this Futuro House and exhibited it at a Home & Garden Show. By 1976 he had the Futuro relocated to the Covington site it remains on to this day.
"There are many variations of the Futuro house depending on where and for what utility purpose they were made. For example, American markets demanded more spacious rooms with bigger windows which could be opened (Home & Taanila 2004,). In the United States they made an alteration to the steel legs which instead of the steel ring were connected directly to the body of the building. Those Futuros that served as banks could have less windows and those that served as Air Force-owned observation posts could have larger and reinforced windows."
So; while it appears that the Futuro was purchased in 1973 by the current owner and that it may well have only ever had a single owner perhaps it was initially planned for use as a bank branch, or perhaps it was simply purchased from a distributer that was dealing with the "8 window" models.
"Covington's housing department has a file on the house. It contains an undated flier describing it as "The Futuro: Vacation Home of the Future." A picture shows a flattened oval perched on what looks like metal stilts. The contact on the flier is I.F.O. Promotions, 7709 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati."
We have been unable to find any information on I.F.O Promotions who may have sold this Futuro; we would love to hear from anyone who could tell us anything about this company.
The real estate valuation site Zillow lists a sale of this property in 1987 for $7000 but as far as we can tell it has been owned by the same individual since the 70's. If anyone can confirm one way or the other please let us know.
The most recent confirmation of the Futuro's continuing presence on site comes from Lyinn's Blog (Dead Link - Archived PDF copy here) whose author visited and photographed the Futuro 010712.
The Covington Futuro has been "immortalized" by being featured on one of several mosaics that were created as a part of the "Millennium Mosaic Project" in which artist Olivia Gude created 5 cast concrete seating modules decorated with ceramic and glass tile mosaics. More information about this project can be found here and here and qrtr2four took a great photo of the mosaic that features the Futuro which is displayed below as are several videos and photos.
The first video is a capture from a Local12 WKRC Cincinnati news broadcast featuring the Futuro. It includes a conversation with Rob Detzel, the owner, some nice footage of the interior and some shots of other Futuros. The next two were posted to YouTube by revjeromedunk and cincinnatisolutions respectively.
We have always really liked black and white photography and we think this photo of the Covington Futuro is very atmospheric. The photo, taken 040810, is by Charlie The Cheeky Monkey and is reproduced here with permission.
These three photos were taken 010712 and posted on Lyinn's Blog; they are reproduced here coutesy of Lyinn. These are the most recent photos we have come across of this Futuro and make its confirmed date 010712.
Finally this photo shows one of the "Millennium Mosiac" seating units in Covington that features the Futuro. It was taken by qrtr2four and is displayed here with permission.