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.
The Royse City Futuro is our "local" Futuro; it sits a little under 60 miles from our home or about an hour one way. With a few days away from the "day job" for Thanksgiving we decided it was time for another visit so 112519 we took the short trip out to Royse City. The two photos below show the Futuro as it appeared that day. It was nice to see that the exterior was still graffiti free.
Not so the interior as can be seen in this photo.
During this visit we did come across one very interesting and, to us at least, new fact about this Futuro. The two photos below, the first a photo from Rockwall taken during its recent dis-assembly for transport to a new location and the second a photo of an architectural drawing taken during a trip to the Austin Futuro a few years ago, show the standard radial steel structure that supports the floor in US manufactured Futuros.
On this visit to the Royse City Futuro we found that, unlike all of our previous visits, much of the flooring was now missing (we had not seen, or at least not noticed, this in any photos or videos we had previously seen either).
That revealed that the steel structure supporting the floor was not radial in design in this unit as can be seen clearly in the first of the two photos below. In the second the mounting points for the original radial support structure can clearly be seen at approximately the same points as the current structure is mounted.
So, at some point during its history the original radial floor support structure was replaced with the one we currently see. We have no idea when this happened or for that matter why.
We also took the opportunity to grab a couple of shots that illustrate how the Futuro's shell segments were constructed (because of the degradation of this Futuro over the years it is possible to get a very clear look at this). These two photos illustrate; the insulation (degraded) is clearly visible between the two fiber-glass "skins".
The video contains some nice recent footage of this unit and it also highlights a feature that we had not previously seen (or if we had we had not actually "noticed" it). That feature is two "strings" of flashing lights above and below the windows; not sure if that is a temporary addition, perhaps for the holidays, or intended to be a permanent feature. These lights can be seen at various points throughout the footage; they first appear at around 0:10 and perhaps can be seen most clearly at around 1:26.
The footage also includes a look inside (starting around 0:53). It gives us a pretty good look at the condition of the unit and, unfortunately, it also highlights the fact that there is still a great deal of graffiti inside the unit.
The recent "facelift" this Futuro received garnered a great deal of attention in local DFW media and even made it to TV. The local NBC affiliate broadcast a segment on this Futuro on 073019.
And, on an entirely different note, Futuros have featured along with various "cool" cars in photos from time to time but none has had quite the same "contrast" between the futuristic and the vintage as Bill Blanton's awesome photo of his 1929 Ford Model A "posing" in front of this Futuro.
It is always great to see a recent photo of any Futuro; in the case of the photo below taken June 2019 by Tom Van Daele we not only have a recent shot of the Royse City Futuro but also a pretty darn good photo in and of itself. Thanks for sharing this Tom.
However, a recent photo is only "recent" until the "next one(s)"! In this case the "next one(s)" are significant in that they show that mid July 2019 this Futuro got a new paint job.
The footage shows two locals, Gunderson Elkins and Chris Shelton, repainting the Futuro in an attempt to "restore it back to something the community could be proud of."
The color remains the same but at least all of the unnecessary and pointless graffiti is gone from both exterior and interior (for now at least; almost certainly, for whatever inexplicable reason, to me at least, the cycle of graffiti that has plagued this Futuro over the years will start again almost immediately).
It is interesting to note the addition of the marking "Area276" to the unit; presumably prompted by the Facebook "event", "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" planned for 092019, that has gathered a massive following and generated coverage on many main stream news platforms. Of course this Futuro sits on Highway 276.
The photos below, which give us a great view of the updated look being sported by this Futuro were posted to Instagram by farrahbrabson 072119; the originals can be found on Instagram here.
This video, published to Youtube 040319 by Driveway TV, gives us a glimpse of the current (at the time of writing) condition of both the exterior and interior of the unit.
The Royse City Futuro recently made an appearance in Season 10 Episode 5 of the TV Show "The Daytripper" which was broadcast on our local PBS station here in DFW back in November. There does not appear to be an embeddable version of the video anywhere for us to share here but it can be viewed on PBS through 031119 and downloadable (but likely not legal) versions can certainly be found in various corners of the web but you will have to find those yourself.
That said there is only 1 minute of footage (starting at 15:40) and not a whole lot of information none of which is new or particularly informative so while the TV appearance is noted here "for the record" we are not sure anyone should spend a whole lot of time trying to find or view this footage.
This video, published to Youtube 082318 by suetube provides a recent view of both the exterior and interior of this Futuro which, sadly, has once again been overrun with graffiti.
It is always nice to see recent photos of Futuros; this pair of photos of the Royse City Futuro were taken 110517 by Kristin Lavitola and sent to us a few days ago.
As can be seen in the photo and the video below the framed wooden "entry chamber" like structure inside this Futuro has now been completely demolished. The photo is by Steve Rainwater and the video was posted to Youtube by Scott J.
Austin based band Tele Novella's style is described on the website northerntransmissions.com as "macabre-pop". Not too sure what that means but the official video for the lead track on their album House Of Souls, Heavy Balloon, features this Futuro as a backdrop several times.
"... an immersive, one-night-only multi-media experience that will allow attendees to spend an evening within a work of art as creative collaborators."
The Royse city Futuro is being used by Denise in some scenes and a video shoot took place at the Futuro a few weeks ago. A video preview of L'enfant Terrible can be found below along with a rather nice photo that Denise sent us.
If you are interested in attending L'enfant Terrible or learning more about the project keep an eye on Denise's website. There is also a Facebook "Event Page" that can be found here and Denise can be found on Instagram as denise_prince_.
DFW ABC affiliate WFAA/Channel 8 ran this news story, titled Weird Wednesday: The Mysterious Futuro House, 080316. Though we live in DFW and often watch WFAA we missed this story but Daniel Robinson kindly sent us a "heads up"; thanks Daniel. Unfortunately the video does not provide any new information or insight.
When I posted photos taken during my last visit to this Futuro on 061314 I mentioned a small pipe and vent that, for me, was a puzzle; I simply could not figure out its purpose. That mystery was solved for me this week by Eric Ritchie who emailed me a few days ago. Eric wrote:
"... This is a sewer vent drain, below the floor it would be connected to both the sink/s and the toilet. It allows sewer gasses to escape the drain system and for drains to drain water without gulping air (like when you turn a bottle of water upside down and water gushes out in spurts) ..."
Eric also mentioned that a diagram illustrating this can be found here. Many thanks for "educating" me Eric; always nice when one of life's small mysteries is solved. Of course it may not have been a mystery to others but then we all have out limitations!
We received an email from Jimmy Powell (thanks Jimmy) this week with a "snippet" of Royse City history. Jimmy wrote:
"I do not know when the Royse City house was installed there, but I do know it was in place and used as a local landmark prior to 1987. My wife's parents lived in the area and "turn right before the spaceship" were part of the directions get to her house. We were married in 1987. It was being used as the office of a used car lot at that time."
This is interesting and suggests that previous information suggesting that this Futuro was previously located in Garland, Texas might be incorrect; either that or someone has a memory that is as suspect as my own.
The 2001 Dallas Morning News article referenced in the 110412 update below indicates that the Royse City Futuro had been previously located in Garland but does not indicate when it had been moved. In the 022214 update Jeff Lowe provided the actual location of the Futuro in Garland and indicated it had been there through the early to mid 90's. Jimmy on the other hand recalls the Royse City Futuro being on site at least as early as 1987.
Clearly all of this information cannot be correct. If the Royse City Futuro did indeed move from Garland then either Jeff or Jimmy has got a date wrong. Alternatively both dates could be correct and the error is that the Garland and Royse City Futuros were in fact two different units; this would of course indicate that the Dallas Morning News article was incorrect. As is often the case with Futuro history for the time being it is not possible to state with certainty which set of facts is correct.
If anyone is able to add any information that might clarify please let us know; you can use our Contact Form or email us directly.
Life is full of coincidences and this week we received two Royse City related updates and also added a Royse City related item to our collection of "Things Futuro."
In a Forum Post (a rarity) globalsunset told us the unit had been repainted and included a link to a photo. Our thanks to globalsunset for the information.
Shortly after that AJ sent us a link to a UK Television program just broadcast the day before that included footage of a Futuro; thanks AJ. The program, George Clarke's Amazing Spaces (Season 3 Episode 2), was available online but unfortunately not in the US. After a little searching we found it elsewhere and it turned out that the footage (just under two minutes starting at 14:30) was of the Royse City Futuro. We cannot post the video (or even a link) here due to copyright but if you search it can be found.
Also this week we received a copy of the 2012 album "In 4 The Evening" by "Night On Venus" which features a very cool photo of the Royse City Futuro on the cover.
The Royse City Futuro is only about an hour's drive from our home and, given the news that it had been repainted along with its other "appearances" this week, it seemed like it was time for us to make another visit so yesterday we took a trip out to the Futuro. On our previous visits we had not had a lot of time but on this occasion we were able to spend a little more time and get some detailed photographs documenting the condition of the unit.
This first group of photos shows the exterior of the unit as it proudly shows off its new coat of paint.
The steps have also been reattached since our last visit (though not in a manner that allows them to be raised and lowered).
This group of photos shows the interior of the unit which appears largely unchanged since the last time we visited (though some of the debris has been removed).
These shots show some of the issues that can be seen on the exterior of the unit including "bulging" along the seams between sections, damage around the windows exposing the "sandwiched" insulation between the outer and inner skins, bulging and evidence of repairs around the mounting points for the support struts and so on.
The seams between sections seem to be in very poor condition as these shots show; the shots in this group are of the vertical seams between sections of the same hemisphere.
These shots show the condition of the seam between upper and lower hemispheres.
In many places the insulation between outer and inner "skins" is exposed and degrading as seen in these shots.
Detail of the center roof vent can be seen in these two shots.
This group of photos shows damaged fittings associated with utilities.
And finally a puzzle; the small vent seen in the top left photo below attaches to a pipe shown in the top right photo and then leads down to a fitting that goes below the floor that can be seen in the bottom photo. We have no idea what the function of this would be; probably simple and obvious but we are missing it so if you know please let us know.
As the external photos clearly show the Futuro has certainly received a new paint job just as globalsunset reported. What's more it received it quite recently; this image below from Google Earth imagery dated 031114 clearly shows the Futuro had not been repainted at that time so the upgrade to the exterior of the Futuro can be placed sometime in the last three months.
We can only guess at the reason for the repaint; perhaps it is an attempt to prevent further degradation as a result of exposure to the elements, perhaps the owner is thinking about preparing it for sale or even renovating it, maybe it is just to make it look better but whatever the reason it is certainly, in our opinion, an improvement. The finish is matt and while we are about as far from being "DIY folks" as you can get we are wondering if in fact it is some kind of a primer or other protective coating with a glossy coat to follow.
There do not appear to have been any changes made to the interior and overall the condition is not good. There are numerous issues including, as the series of photographs shows, joints and flanges between sections being in very poor condition, insulating material between outer and inner "skins" exposed and degraded, small cracks in some of the sections and other "surface" damage, skin separated from the "bottom" of the stair unit and so on. Overall we think it would be quite a restoration task to take on.
One other thing we noted with great interest was the number of sections from which the Futuro was manufactured, in this case eight. We have long wondered about exactly how many sections the North American units were manufactured from since we have often seen what appears to be conflicting information. This document, from the Hedburg Public Library, states that "upper and lower hemispheres are each made in four quarter sections joined mechanically and sealed"; information provided during the recent E-Bay auction of the Greenwich Futuro indicated that unit could be disassembled into four sections, information we received on Media some time ago suggested that unit only broke down into two halves. Adding to the picture is the fact that almost every example of a Futuro being transported in the USA has involved a unit being transported in one piece; we have to imagine that is more difficult than moving a disassembled unit and that a unit would be transported fully assembled if that was the only viable option.
Perhaps the answer lies in the phrase "joined mechanically and sealed"; maybe they were all manufactured in eight sections but in some cases those "mechanical joins" and "seals" degraded over the years so as to reach a point where it was simply not possible to disassemble them anymore; perhaps the intention at manufacture was that they should not be disassembled again. Not much is ever certain where Futuro is concerned but given the physical example of Royse City and it having clearly being constructed of eight sections along with the Hedburg Library document we am now firmly of the opinion that the US units were manufactured in eight sections. Most likely where it is suggested units will disassemble only to less than eight sections the issue is not that there were not eight sections but that either the condition is such they cannot reasonably be taken apart without damaging the unit or the "factory" seals were so good that the sections cannot be taken apart.
These two photographs below clearly show the four "seams" between the sections of the upper half of the Futuro and leave no doubt as to the fact that this unit was manufactured in eight sections.
In the 2001 Dallas Morning News article referenced in the 110412 update below the writer indicated that this Futuro had previously been located in Garland, Texas but there was no indication as to exactly where it was located or when it might have been relocated.
Jeff Lowe contacted us some time ago and told us that he recalled the Futuro in Garland and was able to provide its exact location. The Garland Futuro was located at 609 E Avenue D, Garland, TX 75040 (32°54'32.49"N 96°37'27.25"W). Jeff told us that:
"This is where the Garland Futuro resided in the part of the early to mid 90's ..."
and then in a later email Jeff added that:
"I used to drive by it all the time, I believe I saw it there in the late 80's as well."
Though this does not confirm for definite that this Futuro is the one that was located in Garland the close proximity of the two locations and the possible timing does indicate that this is a likely scenario with the earliest confirmed date for the Futuro in Royse City we have being 012396 (based on Google Earth historical satellite imagery).
To date we have not been able to find any other information but the quest continues; Garland is a stone's throw from our home so getting to local libraries and the like is possible. Hopefully we will uncover something in the end and in the meantime if anyone can add anything please let us know.
Our thanks to Jeff for the information.
Seems like the Royse City Futuro was the "butt" of an April Fool's joke this week on the part of PlanetRockwall.com who reported on a Rockwall County government "expedition" to "retrieve" the Royse City Futuro from its Hunt County location and place it outside the Rockwall County Courthouse.
The image below is by PlanetRockwall.com and "shows" the Futuro at its "new" April 1st location; read the full article here.
A recent picture taken 031713 by Molly Block confirms that the Royse City Futuro is still on site. It's condition appears to be pretty much unchanged although someone has stood up the steps since I was there in September 2011. Thanks for the photo Molly.
We have often seen references to a 2001 Dallas Morning News article about the two Texas Futuros, this one and the Rockwall one, but we have never been able to find a copy of the paper. We still have not found one but we did discover that the Dallas Morning News archives it's articles and that they can be accessed online; of course it costs more for a single article online that it did to buy the whole newspaper but we guess that is just a sign of the times.
Anyway having found the text of the article (the archives do not include photos used in the paper) it turns out that there are a couple of interesting little snippets in there about this Futuro's history.
The article tells us that the Royse City Futuro was owned by the late Jerry Moore; we read that:
"He and his brother Terry opened a used-car business years ago on a small plot of land on Highway 276 at South Munson Road. Terry Moore said he couldn't remember when the pair started their business, but he remembered that his brother saw a Futuro in Garland and bought it for $10,000, about what it would have cost new.
Some years later following a divorce Jerry turned the Futuro into a bachelor pad and eventually the Futuro and the land it stood on was sold to Mario Santa Cruz. At the time of the article (2001) Santa Cruz was planning to open a restaurant or some other business but as we know that never came to pass and the Futuro is currently derelict but still in the same location.
The article tells us the Futuro was at one time located in Garland, Texas but we have no indication of when it was moved. It is visible in Google Earth in Royse City as far back as 012396. There is imagery from 1995 of Garland but it is a large and heavily developed area to the east of Dallas and finding a Futuro that might have been long gone by then anyway is a tall order so likely Google Earth will be no help. If anyone has any information about or photos of a Futuro in Garland, Texas we would love to hear from you.
For the record The Dallas Morning News actually published two different versions of the article under different titles. The articles are dated 020901 and were under the titles "Hot Saucers" and "Back To The Futuro".
A nice new set of photos by element321 dated 092812 confirm this Futuro still on site as of that date.
Original Information 091511
Through all our past and ongoing research for this project we have come across what we can only describe as a little confusion regarding the Futuro House (or houses) in Rockwall County, TX. References are made to as few as one and as many as three but blogs, blog comments and forum threads often seem to confuse one with another or consider two to actually be the same one. Mention is made of Futuro's located in Quinlan, Rockwall, around Lake Tawakoni and many other places.
We were able to locate two using Google Maps and Google Earth and it became apparent to us that they were not the same one (we had seen it suggested that it was the same one relocated). Google Earth dates its satellite imagery and, if older imagery is available, includes the ability to "roll back" and look at that earlier imagery. We was able to establish that both Futuro Houses had been visible on satellite imagery from the same date several times (012396, 033101, 102105, 103008 and 060510). For them to be a single Futuro someone would have had to be doing some incredible feats of moving the Futuro one way and then back the other way; the two locations are only 10 miles apart but on country roads that would be some trek for a 24' diameter Futuro given that it would have had to race either the airplane or satellite that was capturing the images.
Given the confusion, our belief that there were two distinct Futuros and the fact that we live about 50 miles away from the area we decided there was nothing for it but to check it out for ourselves; put the confusion to rest and confirm our findings.
These photos were taken during our visit on 091411.
The end result; there are two confirmed Futuro Houses in Rockwall County, TX. We visited and photographed both on 091411. One, this one, is at 9573 State Highway 276 W, Royse City, TX 75189 and the other is at 779 Stevens Rd, Rockwall, TX 75032. The one often mentioned as being around Lake Tawakoni is, as far as we can ascertain, actually the Highway 276 one (it is located about 18 miles west of West Tawakoni which sits on the west shore of the lake).
This Futuro features in the cover art for the self titled third album of the band Juno Specter. Judging by the photo it lookes like the Futuro was shot at a time when it was in somewhat better condition.
A "Lost Soul"
Sadly this Futuro is in a very dilapidated state as the photos show. We have no idea when it was left to the elements but our guess is quite some time ago; certainly most articles, comments and forum threads we can find as far back as they go talk of it being in a very poor state. The graffiti "Lost Soul!" seemed almost poignant and certainly appropriate given the abandoned and derelict state of the "home".
Despite the state of the Futuro our visit on 091411 was still very interesting. Obviously we could not get a feel for what the Futuro was like in its original, as manufactured, fully furnished state but what we could get was a much better perspective on the size and shape than we had been able to get previously from the many photographs we had seen. The Futuro was advertised in its heyday as being able to accommodate 8 adults. Elsewhere in these pages we have mentioned our reservations about that statement, certainly as far as we are concerned. Having now had the opportunity to stand inside a Futuro, albeit a wreck, we now feel more than ever that for us there is no way a Futuro could have comfortably accommodated 8 adults.
It has been our experience that an empty, unfurnished room looks and feels bigger than a furnished one; think about your own experience the last time you were house hunting. The Futuro was completely empty which in our opinion would make it feel and look far bigger than it would have done when furnished and fully appointed and yet in its current state it really did not feel much bigger than a good sized family room. Imagine yourself and seven others living in the den! For us having now had the opportunity to stand inside a Futuro we would think that having one as a second/vacation home somewhere cool would be fantastic for a couple but for more people or as a full time home - well, that just is not us.
Steevithak's [CC 2.0] excellent collection of images of this Futuro taken on 021510 can be found here (and yes we know his photos are far better than ours - our excuse is that we are Futuro "geeks" and not professional photographers). A selection from the set is shown here with Steevithak's permission.