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 original information on this page included this photo which showed the Futuro with wheels mounted to the bottom of the support struts. At the time we had no idea of the purpose of these wheels as their alignment suggested the only thing they could facilitate was the rotation of the Futuro. In a recent email Norton Cooper explained what was likely their purpose. Norton tells us that:
"In Belgium there is a law stating that if a light building with no foundations has wheels mounted to move it, you don't require any permit, and you can place that building anywhere, even on a non-constructible piece of land. That's why you often see large bungalows built on a light metal frame with ridiculously small wheels that wouldn't even stand a fraction of the weight of the building above that is not even supported by the wheels, but by supports on the corners. These buildings are considered as caravans. Without wheels, the Futuro House (in the photo) couldn't have been erected where it stood."
Thanks for the info Norton.
Norton also sent us the video below; as with several other updates on this page this video is not really an update to Tildonk as such but this page seems to have become home to anything to do with the three Futuros displayed together in Belgium in the early 70's (see this photo) and it is to that this video relates.
Norton tells us that the video is a short extract from a family video. Though not identified as such it is almost certainly footage of the three Futuros referenced above. The Futuros can be seen at around 18 seconds on in the video.
Finally Norton also tells us that he recalls:
"... another bright orange Futuro House, that was built in a woody back garden along the main road between La Hulpe and Brussels, in Groenendaal. It stayed there for a decade or two, but has now disappeared."
That Futuro has been added to the "Lost Souls" page.
As with several other updates on this page this is not really an update to Tildonk as such but this page seems to have become home to anything to do with the three Futuros displayed together in Belgium in the early 70's (see this photo) and it is to that this update relates.
The photo below was posted to Instagram by manatomik on 081417. Apparently the photo appeared in an issue of Reader's Digest. Though not identified as such it appears that this is a photo showing two of the three Futuros located in Belgium in the early 70's. The landscape, style of fencing, proximity and alignment of the units, configuration of the roof vents and several other features suggest this is the case though we cannot be 100% certain.
This is not really an update to Tildonk but this page seems to have become home to anything to do with the three Futuros displayed together in Belgium in the early 70's (see this photo) so on this page it shall be.
Yves Buysse has made many contributions to these pages and recently he sent us a scan (see below) of several small press clippings relating to the three Belgian Futuros.
Attempting to find out more about the Futuros Yves had contacted the heritage club in Boitsfort (Bosvoorde) where the Futuros were located to see if they had any information. They actually knew very little but were able to provide the scan and the interesting little piece of information that when the Futuros were displayed no one actually asked permission to do so.
The articles themselves are short and reveal little by way of new information. Yves tells us that in one the Futuro House was reported to be "moins cher qu'un apartement" (less expensive than an apartment); that was likely true but of course the Futuro would have been smaller than the average apartment as well (though it did indicate that Futuro was being marketed as a home).
In addition one of the articles indicated that as well as selling Futuros the company displaying the units had licenses for sale for the distribution and production of Futuros in multiple European and African countries. The company is not named. Most likely the licensee had purchased the rights to multiple territories from Polykem and was seeking to sub-license. It is possible that Polykem themselves were selling these licenses but it seems more likely it would have been a local Belgian licensee.
Our thanks to Yves for sending the scan and the info and for his continued Futuro research; looking forward to learning what he discovers next.
Since we developed an interest (or perhaps some would say obsession) with the Futuro House nothing "Futuro" has been more exciting than the addition of a newly rediscovered unit and we have slowly watched the count of confirmed Futuros increase. We just looked back at an old archived version of the original Futuro House Project web site from October 2012 using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine and it listed 53 confirmed Futuros (excluding the Wanli units). As of yesterday that count was 63. Today the count is down to 62 as we have finally decided that the evidence suggests that most likely this unit is in fact in Limni, Corfu.
Several people, including Achim and Yves who are regular contributors to these pages, have suggested to us that that was the case for some time. We simply resisted because while increasing the Futuro count is exciting decreasing it is exactly the opposite. However our main goal with this website has been to assemble the most complete and accurate archive of Futuro information we can and so in the interests of that accuracy we are archiving the Belgian Futuro to the list of units that have moved to another location.
The change is predicated largely on photographic evidence and timing along with the lack of anything surfacing which could confirm the unit remains in Belgium. The photographs of the unit in Belgium from around the time of the Monumentenstrijd and photographs of the Futuro that appeared at MUDAM and was subsequently auctioned by Christie's in 2007 show some extremely similar features and Dakis Joannou has confirmed to us that his Limni Futuro was indeed purchased at the Christie's auction.
Take a look at the three photos below and you will see the similarities; primarily the red coloration around the seams and the streaking on the exterior finish. From top to bottom, left to right the photos are of Limni, Tildonk and MUDAM.
The catalog for the 2007 Christie's auction "Arts Décoratifs Du XXème Siècle Et Design" clearly states that the unit was the one displayed at MUDAM and, as stated earlier, current Limni Futuro owner Dakis Joannou has confirmed he purchased his Futuro at the auction. Thus we have a definite history from MUDAM through the Christie's auction to Limni. The only thing left that is not 100% certain is that the Futuro displayed at MUDAM was the Tildonk Futuro.
While there was documented evidence that the Futuro displayed at MUDAM was indeed this unit (see the 111912 update below and this pdf file) there were also anecdotal reports of this Futuro remaining in Belgium long after the Christie's auction. However none could ever be confirmed and other anecdotal evidence suggests the unit is long gone from Belgium. Assuming it is gone there is a clear trail to Limni and having considered all of the actual evidence along with everything we have been told we have concluded that almost certainly the Tildonk, MUDAM, Christie's, Limni sequence is proven; at least to our satisfaction.
One other interesting side note. we have always assumed that some sections of the European Futuros were interchangeable (in particular the section with the lower windows could be placed in a different location relative to the section housing the entrance) but we had never seen an example where that could actually be seen to be the case. However if we look at photographs of the Futuro in Tildonk for the Monumentenstrijd we see that the lower windows are located to the right of the entrance when facing the entrance (see this photo). On the other hand in the case of MUDAM we see that the lower windows are located to the left of the entrance when facing the entrance (see the Christie's auction catalog). While we do not have a photo of Limni that actually shows the lower windows we can see that they are not to the right.
This may or not indicate the sections are interchangeable. We are told that at the time of the Monumentenstrijd they struggled with the assembly of the Futuro and in fact never completed it. In fact as they ran into problems with assembling the unit without damaging it they ended up quickly placing only some of the sections to give the feel for the Futuro so perhaps the sections were interchangeable or perhaps in Tildonk it was simply incorrectly (and partially) assembled.
The three new photos below were taken at the time the Futuro was being assembled for the Monumentenstrijd competition in 2006. We have actually had them for some time but until now we did not have permission to add them to the site. We now do - thanks Yves.
Recently Yves sent us these very interesting interior photographs of one of the three Futuros that were located together south-east of Brussels, Belgium in 1971 (50°47'18.64"N 4°25'14.94"E). Though not "technically" photos of this Futuro since they relate to Belgium and the photo of the three units was originally added to this page we have decided to display them here. My thanks to Yves for the photos.
In this first photo you can clearly see the other two Futuros in the background through the window/door. The second, annotated, version of the photo highlights this.
The first of these photos illustrates an interesting difference between this Futuro and most others, at least of which we have seen photos. Instead of the normal individual chair/bed units we see a long bench seat. While this may not have been unique we have not seen this configuration before. Again the second, annotated, version of the photo highlights this. The third photo is a stock photo of the more traditional configuration for comparison.
The final photo also illustrates the "bench" seating but it also shows there was also one of the individual chair/bed units. Purely conjecture on our part but perhaps this was a marketing/sales display of Futuros and the idea was to illustrate different configurations. There last photo is once again an annotated one to highlight the seating configuration.
Not that it will really interest anyone but the most obsessed of Futuro fans (like us maybe) because the Futuros have been gone for decades but the location where the Press Photo displayed further down the page that shows a grouping of three Futuros in Belgium in 1971 was taken has been identified - thanks Yves.
The photo below is a screenshot grabbed from Google Maps and clearly shows the same building and road configuration as seen in the Press Photo. The location is 50°47'18.64"N 4°25'14.94"E, to load this in Google Maps go here.
A little while ago we were sent a photo of this article - we cannot read it of course (if anyone can provide a transaltion please let us know) but it does clearly refer to this Futuro since it references the address Pastoor Lambertzdreef, 3150 Haacht.
It is not unusual to think you have figured something out about the history of a Futuro only to then find something else that suggests maybe you have not figured it out. We were quite certain that this Futuro was the one shown at MUDAM but now we have our doubts.
We recently purchased a copy of the Auction Catalog for the 2007 Christie's Paris Auction "Arts Décoratifs Du XXème Siècle Et Design" which was held on 112707 and included the auction of a Futuro House. That catalog, from what we would consider a very reputable source - one of the premiere auction houses in the world - indicates that the Futuro sold in Paris was the one displayed at MUDAM.
However all of the information we have indicates that the Futuro of Philemon Vanlangendonck was still owned by him long after the Paris auction. That would clearly suggest that while the MUDAM exhibition did feature one of the three Belgian Futuro's (a fact confirmed by the Christie's catalog) it was not the one owned by Philemon Vanlangendonck. For more information check out the catalog on our "Collection" page.
In 2007 there was an exhibition at the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (known as MUDAM) in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg that featured a Futuro. The exhibition was titled "Tomorow Now - When Design Meets Science Fiction" and it ran from 052507 to 092407 (a little more information on the exhibition can be found here). It is quite well documented but until today we were not sure which Futuro had been displayed.
The mystery of which Futuro appeared at MUDAM is however no longer a mystery. The Futuro was the Belgian Futuro owned by Philemon Van Langendonck. The evidence? A pdf file sent to us by Achim Breiling (and it can be found on the web here) lists the exhibits at the exhibition and on page 4 we find the following listing which quite clearly tells us that it was indeed the Belgian Futuro that was displayed at MUDAM:
This impressive photo was taken by Original Rudie on 091107; it showcases not only the Futuro on display at MUDAM but also the very cool architecture of the exhibition hall itself. The photo is displayed under CC 2.0.
So, one of the two photos above is of the Futuro, but what is the other we hear you asking and why display it here; this is a website about the Futuro House after all? The second photo is actually of a work by Mariko Mori titled "The Oneness Aliens" that was displayed at the MUDAM exhibition at the same time as the Futuro and Mori's "aliens" actually found their way into a photo with the Futuro House.
It is hard to get an idea of the scale of the "aliens" from the photo above so we cannot be sure if the photo below is real, the Futuro and the "aliens" posed around it, or a photo shopped image. The aliens are clearly Mori's aliens and whether real or photo shopped it makes for quite an interesting Futuro photo. We found this photo a long time ago and we now have no idea where it came from. If you know the origin of this photo please let us know so we can provide proper attribution. Thanks.
If you would like to see more of the Futuro at MUDAM there are some high quality images in a gallery on the website Thomas Mayer Archive.
Coincidentally on the same day Achim sent us the pdf file referenced above we also received in the mail the latest in our small but growing collection of "Things Futuro"; an original press agency photo from August of 1971 showing a grouping of three Futuros in Belgium. Various references quoted below talk of three Belgian Futuros in the early 70's being at a single location (one of which was later the Futuro of Philemon Vanlangendonck) and this photo is almost certainly of that group of Futuros. It features a label on the back that carries the following text:
"AUGUST 31st. 1971. ... NOT 'FLYING SAUCERS' ... No - these are not flying saucers landing in Belgium, - but futuristic looking bungalows. They were designed by Finnish architect, Matti Suuronen, and made of fibre glass. ... H/Keystone ... /838111
Original Information 100512
The current precise location of this Futuro is unknown but it is believed that it remains in storage somewhere in Tildonk. The last confirmed location was outside Sint-Jan-de-Doperkerk, Tildonk in September 2006. The Google Maps Street View at the top of the page is of this location but the Futuro is no longer at the location; however by comparing the video and photos below with Google Street View it is clear that this is indeed the precise location of the unit in September 2006.
Though many of the European Futuros are among the best documented this unit is one of the least documented and photographed. However we can establish something of the Futuro's history by taking a look at a scientific paper Reliability Of Ageing Composite Constructions authored by Peter Arras, Chris Peeters & Jan Ivens. In the document we are told the following:
The Futuro was originally located somewhere near Brussels in 1969 and remained there until 1999.
In 1999 the Futuro was saved from demolition by Belgian architect Philemon Van Langendonck.
The document also includes this very unusual photograph.
Taken in 1999 prior to disassembly of the unit in preparation for relocation the photo shows the unit with wheels mounted to the bottom of the support struts; the wheels are oriented around the circumference of the unit which gives the impression that if they were for the purposes of moving the Futuro the only movement possible would have been rotational. It seems to us that going to the trouble of installing wheels just so the unit could be rotated is unlikely so we are forced to assume that the wheels served a purpose other than movement or that they were realigned somehow when the unit was to be moved. Of course making assumptions is usually a bad idea and we could be completely wrong on that!
The Belgian Newspaper De Standaard in an 082306 article titled "Een vliegende schotel in Haacht" (A Flying Saucer In Haacht) reports that three Futuros were imported to Belgium in 1970 one of which was "destined" for Philemon Van Langendonck. It is unclear whether Van Langendonck owned the Futuro throughout its life and simply moved it in 1999 or whether it was owned by someone else and purchased by Van Langendonck in 1999.
Interestingly the photograph that accompanies this article is actually the well known photo of the Danvers Futuro with a plastic alien riding a plastic flamingo in the foreground.
The Tildonk Futuro's "five minutes of fame" came in 2006 when it was featured in Belgian broadcaster VRT's project Monumentenstrijd in 2006 (translates to "Battle Monument" we believe). An article on vrtfansite.be (Google Translation To English) tells us about the project (it is not clear to us from this article if the project consisted of a TV show or series of shows, online, print or some combination of the three):
The project revolved around the award of funds to the "winner" of a selection of architecturally significant sites in Belgium for the restoration of said site.
There were intitially over 400 sites submitted for consideration.
30 "finalists" were chosen from the 400 + by a selection panel.
The Futuro located in Tildonk (Haacht) was one of the 30 finalists.
The overall winner and the recipient of the prize would be chosen by public voting.
A report from Gazet van Turnhout (Google Translation To English) provides a little more detail. We read here that the project did involve a "series of broadcasts" (not clear to us if this was TV or radio) and that the prize for the winner was substantial; over 500,000 Euros.
By 091706 the thirty finalists would be cut down to 15 by public vote (Wikipedia.nl lists the final 15 here).
The next stage of the competition would involve a reduction from 15 to 5, again by public vote, by January 2007.
The winner of Monumentenstrijd would be announced 021907 during a show on Belgian TV Channel Canvas.
So the question becomes this; did the Futuro win? The answer unfortunately is no. We could simply surmise that from the fact that the unit was not subsequently restored and is once again dismantled and in storage but no assumptions are necessary. On the Monumentenstrijd website (no longer up on the web but still accessible via the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine by using this link) we learn that the Futuro did not make it into the final 15 and that the eventual winner of the competition was the Stoomstroopfabriek (Steam Syrup Factory) in Borgloon.
A couple of other interesting pieces of information can be gleaned from the Monumentenstrijd website; one being a reference to "... three under Belgian license" when talking about Futuro manufacturing which appears to confirm the earlier referenced De Standaard report of "three Belgian Futuros". We also read this "De enige Futuro in België 'ligt' sinds oktober 2001 in Tildonk" which we believe translates to a statement to the effect that this is the only Futuro in Belgium since October 2001; unfortunately there is no mention of where the other two might have gone.
In the final document we have been able to dig up so far that refers to the Tildonk Futuro (a post from bloggen.be) we read that all three of the Belgian Futuros were, at least originally, located in Bosvoorde; specifically the article includes the following statement "Drie exemplaren hebben lange tijd in Bosvoorde gestaan" which Google Translate tells us reads "Three specimens have long stood in Boitsfort".
As stated at the beginning of this article the precise current location of this Futuro is unknown but recent emails suggest that it is almost certainly still disassembled and in storage somewhere in our near Tildonk. If you have any better or more recent information please let us know.
A note on translations; almost all of the information on this page is based on Belgian and/or Dutch language documents and webpages that have been translated using Google Translate so there may well be inaccuracies due to poor translation. Please let us know if you spot anything that is incorrect. Thanks.