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.
Craig Barnes UK based Futuro has been in storage for quite some time now but recently the Futuro has resurfaced for a Summer 2021 engagement.
The Futuro will be located at Marston Park, Frome, Somerset in an idyllic waterside location surrounded by trees; what could be better? Well actually there is better! You can take the opportunity to not only visit Marston Park but also stay in a Futuro at the same time as Craig's Futuro is up for rent on a nightly basis throughout the summer; you can make your reservation here.
This will be (at least for the Sumer of 2021) the fourth Futuro that you can actually stay in; the others of course are Joshua Tree, Dombai and Warrington.
As always Craig has been sharing his Futuro activity (thank you Craig) and the photos and videos below are from his Futuro dedicated Instagram account that can be found here. The items are chronologically arranged from top to bottom and left to right.
This video was posted to Youtube by waseldo 101919. The footage dates from this Futuros 2018 visit to Le Havre. The video is actually over three minutes of footage of a group of folks sleeping (or "staging" sleeping) in the Futuros chair/bed units and so in some ways it is not the most interesting Futuro footage we have ever seen.
That said it is somewhat interesting in that it affords us a look at what it might have been like for a Futuro, advertised back in the day as sleeping up to 8 people, to be fully occupied. We feel like everyone would need to be really good friends, it would certainly have been a sleeping arrangement with very little privacy (or silence if many of the group were snorers).
We really enjoy a good sunset (or sunrise) and so this photo, taken by Barske Franck, during the time this Futuro spent in Le Havre in 2018, combines that along with our love of all things Futuro. No way to tell if this is a sunrise or sunset shot; in the end it really does not matter as it is a highly enjoyable photo either way.
Owner Craig Barnes recently added this video to YouTube. The video documents "Futuro 22's" July through September 2018 stay in Le Havre, France and includes some awesome time lapse footage of its assembly at that location.
"Futuro 22's" engagement in Le Havre officially ended 092318; owner Craig Barnes wrapped up Le Havre in this recent Facebook post. With its next destination currently unknown the Futuro will be returned to storage for now.
This Futuros temporary visit to Le havre has resulted in some of our favorite Futuro photos. A small selection of them are displayed below.
These first two photos are by belehavre and max76fr respectively. The originals can be found on Instagram here and here. We particularly like the first one.
Craig Barnes Futuro, his awesome restoration of that Futuro and its various "landing sites" have been featured in many newspaper, magazine and online articles over the last few years. Most recently British newspaper The Guardian carried an article titled "Back to the Futuro: the spaceship house that landed in Yorkshire" in its 082218 issue. The image top left is of the online version of the article.
The article includes a little general Futuro history, some commentary related to Waterside Plastics and the Todmorden Futuro, one of several that company manufactured in the UK, and it also references Craig Barnes' Futuro and its current visit to Le Havre.
Other recent media appearances include a very short interview with Craig under the title "Un Lieu Sans Angle Droit Qui Vous Inspire" ("A Place Without A Right Angle That Inspires You") that appeared on www.uneteauhavre.fr and this video from Arte that includes a little of the history of his Futuro in Craig Barnes' own words.
This Futuro's summer 2018 stay in Le Havre continues to generate a huge number of photos on Instagram, Twitter and elsewhere online and it makes no sense to add large numbers of very similar photos here. That said we will continue to add items we think are a little different from the norm and the two items below fit that category.
When Futuros are relocated to publicly accessible locations, either permanently or temporarily, it is normal to see a large number of photos appear online; there are multiple examples of this such as Futuro "arrivals" in Munich and Marseilles during 2017 and the arrival of this Futuro for a stay in Le Havre in 2018 is no exception.
Even if we could keep up, which we could not, it would make no sense to try to gather up large numbers of photos of a similar nature and timeframe and post them here but there are always one or two photos that particularly appeal to us or stand "out from the crowd" for some reason and the photos below are those that fit that "category" this time around.
Those who have followed these pages for some time will know we have a great affinity for black & white photos and these photos, by wofro_76, bertrand_lefebvre and dsev76 respectively are great examples.
The first of this pair of photos is from owner Craig Barnes's Instagram feed; we really like this photo simply because it showcases the color and perfect glossy finish of the Futuro so well. The second photo, by mycroft_lh, gives us a great "feel" for the location.
The series of photos and the video below are all sourced from owner Craig Barnes Instagram feed, his Facebook page FuturoHouse.co.uk or from direct email from Craig unless otherwise noted. They show various points in the journey of "Futuro 22" from storage in England to construction in Le Havre.
The first two photos date from the Futuros removal from storage and loading up for relocation.
This photo shows the Futuro "on the road" at what looks like a challenging point in the journey.
These four photos document a little of the unloading in Le Havre and the start of the process of re-assembling the Futuro.
Here we see a little video footage of the crew working on the support structure for the Futuro.
And the disassembly of "Futuro 22" for in preparation for relocation continues as documented in this series of photos:
These two photos are from owner Craig Barnes; the first was posted to Facebook 082917 and the second to Twitter 082917.
uallibraries posted this shot to Instagram on 083117.
These final two photos were also posted by owner Craig Barnes; they were added to Facebook and Instagram respectively on 083117.
Seems like the time for "Futuro 22" to move on to "pastures new" is now very close. Owner Craig Barnes posted this photo to Facebook 082317 showing removal of his Futuro's interior fittings well underway.
"Last tours of Futuro House before it departs from Central Saint Martins now on sale from csmevents.co.uk - 19 July, 26 July, 2 August. Then, we set the coordinates to 'unknown'."
Going to be interesting to see where "Futuro 22" lands next!
Changing the subject entirely; a Futuro has served as the backdrop for a fashion shoot on more than one occasion (for example Berlin and Canberra University) and in the video and photos below we see this Futuro being used in this way.
This video was posted to YouTube by Viintex and is titled "A Collection By Kenyon London - Fashion Film".
These photos of another fashion shoot are from the Instagram feed of benjaminbenmoyal.
Over the last several days (starting 041817) four Central Saint Martins Foundation Diploma in Art & Design students have been living and working in the Futuro. The intent was, according to the CSM Blog, to run for four days, six hours and 45 minutes - the same period of time it took the Apollo 11 space mission to reach the moon - and during that time the students will not leave.
Apparently the project, titled "Commune" asks the students:
"to conceive of a set of rules, values and aims by which to live together, with the aim of generating, sharing and distributing ideas of the future in imaginative and surprising ways. We hope that by interrupting familiar and comfortable attitudes to the production of ideas, explorations and outcomes, our students can cultivate collectivity and connectivity as imperative modes for design production."
To be honest we really have no idea what that "goal" actually means and, with our being a "little older" and not really "getting" the youth of today along with not really having much of an appreciation for art because to us it simply seems to get more bizarre and unintelligible as time goes on, we probably never will; frankly how the word "work" could be applied to this is beyond us but there are some videos and photos below so take a look and form your own opinions.
This photo, by gcd_csmfoundation, captures the project's participants as they entered the Futuro on 041817; they look rather normal at that time!
Given the (apparent) "normality" of the students that entered the Futuro seen in the photo above compared to what we see in these two photos (posted to Instagram by CSM) we confess to a single thought - "What the heck happened in there?"
These three videos were posted to the CSM Youtube Channel (they can also be found on Instagram). Make of them what you will; We have no clue what is going on!
Came across these two "videos" on Youtube recently. They appear to be static 360° images uploaded in a video format; perhaps a function of how the images were captured. The "videos" are titled Futuro 360 Interior and Futuro Hallway 360 respectively.
Back in 2014 Craig Barnes and "Futuro 22" featured on UK TV in Season 4 Episode 2 of the TV series George Clark's Amazing Spaces. On 042216 Season 6 Episode 1 of the show aired in the UK and "Futuro 22" was again featured.
Interestingly this episode of the show aired as "George Clark's Amazing Treehouses" but despite the title "Futuro 22" along with owner Craig featured in a five minute spot in the show. The inclusion of the Futuro in a show about treehouses is explained as being a possible answer for someone who is in the city without a tree in sight but still wants a structure "up in the sky". The footage included shots of the Futuro from back in its time in South Africa through restoration all the way up to its time at Matt's Gallery along with conversation with Craig.
For those of you in the UK the episode can be streamed online but only until 052216. Streaming the episode from the Channel 4 site is blocked outside the UK. There are certainly ways to view it though; anyone outside the UK with access to a UK based VPN should be able to stream it and the episode can be found in various places on the web but if you do want to watch it and you are located outside the UK you will have to figure out how for yourself.
While Craig completed his restoration of "Futuro 22" some time ago he only recently completed editing video footage that documents the project. This footage was posted to Youtube today in two parts and it provides a fascinating look at the long and complicated process of restoring a Futuro. The videos, titled "Futuro House 22: Restoration Process Parts 1 & 2", are embedded below and can be found on Youtube here and here.
Craig also recently completed the restoration of a set of vintage Arkana mushroom chairs for the Futuro. As can be seen in the photo below the style of these chairs seems very appropriate for their use in a Futuro. The original photo can be found on the FuturoHouse.co.uk Facebook page here.
"Futuro 22" owner Craig Barnes recently started to research the history of his Futuro. A post to the Herald Port Elizabeth newspaper's Facebook Page has generated a great many responses. Among them were a couple of photos posted by Purdey Mouton which can be found below and some interesting very historical information regarding South African Futuros from Bryan Erasmus, more on that can be found on the "Lost Souls" page.
Purdey's photos, one exterior shot and one interior shot of this Futuro in Port Alfred in December 1997, can be found on Facebook here and here.
"Futuro 22" continues to generate a great deal of interest and publicity; rightfully so in our opinion given the awesome restoration job completed by Craig Barnes and the fact that the unit is bringing Futuro to a new audience in London.
This time around the Hesingin Sanomat website published two articles featuring "Futuro 22" on 012216. There was also a full page article in that day's print copy of the newspaper (in the Culture section) which we will hopefully be adding to our collection of "Things Futuro" shortly. The two online articles can be found here and here.
This Futuro is now "officially" open for tours. On owner Craig Barnes' Futuro House UK Facebook page we find the following post:
"Roll up roll up tickets now available for public tours of the Futuro on the first Wednesday's of each month, alternating between 1pm and 6pm from the Platform Theatre box office."
So, if you live in the area or are visiting and would like the chance to visit a nicely resotred Futuro this is your chance! Tickets can be purchased here.
"Futuro 22" is now officially "open for business" according to the UAL (University Of The Arts London Central Saint Martins) website and is available for bookings for events by students and staff and also for "relevant" commercial event bookings. The intention is that the Futuro House is used in the spirit of the project that the artist Craig Barnes, who has loaned the Futuro to UAL initiated. Specifically UAL proposes that:
"every event at the Futuro House, however small, should contribute a view, challenge, or propose alternative interpretations to what the idea of the future might hold. The future need not be the dominant theme of every activity, but it is hoped that (the organizer) should at least consider (their) contribution to future-thinking as part of the event, and leave a trace of this futural speculation."
Personally we think trying to "direct" the use of the Futuro in this way is great and not only matches the spirit of Craig's purchase and restoration of the Futuro but also the "spirit" of what Futuro itself was all about.
The move and re-assembly of "Futuro 22" is now virtually complete. The photos below are from the FuturoHouse.co.uk Facebook Page. Our thanks to Craig for continuing to share his Futuro journey.
It seems that the Camden Council were forthcoming with planning permission since Futuro 22 has now been moved from 42-44 Copperfield Road, E3 4RR (51°31'9.81N 0°2'9.08W) a few miles across London to a new home on the third floor terrace of the University of the Arts London's Central St Martins' building.
The three photos below, courtesy of Craig over on the FuturoHouse.co.uk Facebook Page, show us that as of 082115 the Futuro has been reassembled at this new location. Two of them photos show the disassembled Futuro while the third shows the assembled unit. Though it is not possible based on the photos to see how the inside looks the windows are still covered and it seems likely that while the majority of the work is complete there may still be a little interior work still to do to "complete" the relocation project.
On 103014 Craig Barnes and "Futuro 22" featured on UK TV as Season 4 Episode 2 of the TV series George Clark's Amazing Spaces aired on Channel 4. The program is available "on demand" on Channel 4's website but it is not accessible here in the US; we are guessing it is only available in the UK. That said we did find it available online with a little searching. Obviously, for copyright reasons, we cannot post the video here but with a little effort you should be able to find it and, if you have an interest in the Futuro, it is well worth watching.
With the restoration of Futuro 22 completed Craig has updated his website, futurohouse.co.uk, and of particular interest, to us anyway, is the page on the restoration of the Futuro that can be found here.
The Futuro will be at its current location through 121414; there is no indication of Futuro 22's next destination but you can sign up for updates on Craig's website here if you want to keep up to date with Craig's plans. The photos below can also be found on futurohouse.co.uk; they showcase the completed Futuro. The clearly different looking color of the Futuro from one shot to another is an interesting example of how light conditions, weather and perhaps camera settings can change the appearance of the subject of a photograph.
A week ago we saw Craig Barnes' "Futuro 22" assembled on the roof of Matt's Gallery in the East End of London. Over the next few days the interior was fitted out and this week, courtesy of Craig Barnes Facebook Page, we have added a couple of photographs of the interior.
Personally we really like the choice of colors and as far as you can tell from photographs it looks like Craig has completed a quality refurbishment of his Futuro. The exterior photograph clearly illustrates the high quality finish applied to the Futuro; note the really clear reflections that can be seen on the exterior of the Futuro.
On the Matt's Gallery Facebook Page there were also a couple of great shots that gave a little different perspective on the gallery building and the Futuro. Both are shots from a little distance away that provide us with an interesting "skyline" view of the gallery building with the Futuro sitting on the roof.
Craig and Futuro 22 are shortly due to make an appearance on the UK Channel 4 TV series George Clark's Amazing Spaces (Season 4 Episode 2) which will air 103014. Looking forward to seeing that!
By curious coincidence in the same week as we received photos of the fully restored Canberra University Futuro Craig Barnes' project to restore "Futuro 22" also reached a major milestone.
Over the last week or so "Futuro 22" has been moved from Herefordshire to London and the shell has been fully assembled on the roof of Matt's Gallery in East London.
The series of photographs below shows some of what has taken place to take a disassembled Futuro 22 from a barn in Herefordshire to a fully assembled Futuro Shell on a London rooftop. The photographs are displayed courtesy of Craig Barnes and Matt's Gallery.
We have to say that the exterior finish looks awesome and we cannot wait to see the interior built out and what the fully restored unit looks like. We were not able to fit in a visit with Craig on our trip to the UK this past summer but another Europe trip is looking like it is on the cards for next year and if so a visit to see Futuro 22 will be a high priority.
In a recent update to the "Futuro 22" Restoration Diary Craig Barnes posted photos and a commentary recounting the first stages of the restoration project. Our thanks to Craig for allowing us to share his project here. Below is a summary of the work to date and then a series of photos; for much more detail, additional photographs and a true feel for what is involved visit the Futuro 22 Restoration Diary.
To quote Craig from his dairy:
"As any painter will tell you, there's no point in painting until you've got your surface just right. Which is why largely the initial three months of restoration have been concentrated on making good the exterior surface of the upper sections."
"Futuro 22" has spent decades in the searing sunshine of South Africa's "Sunshine Coast" and has suffered from each of the primary three ways in which GRP gel coat degrades when exposed to the elements; damage from UV exposure, dirt and chemicals getting trapped in the material due to its porosity and Osmosis which can give the surface a "pock-marked" appearance.
Clearly this damage would have to be repaired before any new coating could be applied and, just as clearly, it quickly became apparent that before the extent of damage to the surfaces could be determined a thorough cleaning to remove dirt and lichen would be necessary. It was with that process that the serious work of restoring Futuro 22 began.
The work so far can be summarized this way:
Cleaning the exterior surfaces of the upper panels by hand using heavy duty scourers; each panel taking around a day to complete.
Removing tar strips and foam strips along the edges of the sections (presumably applied at some point as a moisture seal and as insulation respectively). Initial efforts using a scraper and heat gun were found to cause the tar strips to stick to the gel coat more securely and so the method of removal was changed to chipping it off and then wiping of residue using cellulose thinners.
Cleaning the edges after removal of the tar and foam strips in the same manner as the exterior surfaces.
Cleaning the interior surfaces of the panels using hot water and soda crystals.
Sanding the exterior surface of panels to remove degraded gel coat using an orbital sander; each panel taking around a day to complete.
Sanding the same surfaces again as the first round did not remove enough of the degraded gel coat; a sharper sanding pad was used.
Removing sections where surfaces had been damaged by water and micro-bacterial growth using an angle grinder.
Filling the cavities left by the removal of the damaged areas with two part filler and sanding the filler back.
Repeating the filling and sanding process for several rounds as each round revealed additional damaged areas requiring attention.
Opening up and filling cavities in the flanges of the panels.
Craig ends his commentary on the first stage of the restoration project by telling us that:
"We have about three more weeks of this work, mainly concentrated on damage around the window frame edges, the very high edges, and also the flanges that are currently on the underside. Our aim is to be in a position to apply hardener and primer by Easter. As is the way with these things, I suspect it might take slightly longer, but almost a year after we purchased the Futuro, the restoration process is most definitely underway!"
During the course of what is clearly very labor intensive work Craig did find the time to engage in an activity that was, we are sure, a little more exciting. Having considered at one time finishing the Futuro in an alternative color it was eventually determined that historical accuracy should be preserved and that the unit should be finished in the original color.
Taking the underside of the chimney cowl as the model (since it had not been exposed to the elements but was the same color as the exterior finish) a matching gel coat was produced and applied as a test to the chimney cowl. The last photo below shows the result. We are sure Futuro 22 will look magnificent once it is complete and finished in that color.
Our thanks go to Craig for allowing us to "live vicariously" and share in his "Futuro Journey." Check back here for updates but more importantly and for more detail keep an eye on Craig's Futuro 22 Restoration Diary.
This series of photos are courtesy of Craig Barnes and Matt's Gallery and document in images the first stages of the Futuro 22 restoration project. These photos and the short notes that accompany them provide just a taste of what is involved; for much more detail, additional photos and a real feel for what the restoration process really looks like you should check out the Futuro 22 Restoration Diary.
First a close up surface detail of one of the upper panels of the Futuro showing the condition prior to cleaning.
Then a "before and after" cleaning shot; the two panels seen to the left have not yet undergone the cleaning process.
Here we see panels after being sanded with an orbital sander to remove the top layer of degraded gel coat.
And now a panel after a second round of sanding using a sharper sanding pad.
After sanding the extent of degraded areas of the surfaces that would need attention becomes apparent.
Some panels are more degraded than others; the panel in the center has very little original gel coat remaining.
Panels getting close to being ready for primer and hardener after several rounds of sanding, filler being applied to cleaned damaged areas and then more sanding.
A break from the "hard labor"; a specially formulated gel coat matched to the original color for historical accuracy is tested by being applied to the untreated chimney cowl.
And finally for today a new photo of "Futuro 22" as it appeared in South Africa. The photo was taken by Aschlee Olwage circa 2001 when she lived in the Futuro and was added to Craig Barnes' "Futuro 22" Restoration Diary recently. Our thanks to Aschlee for sending the photo to Craig and to Craig for allowing us to share it here.
The UK Futuro | Now "Futuro 22"
Owner Craig Barnes has named his unit "Futuro 22"; recognizing that the unit spent most of its life at "22" High St.
The history, move to the UK and coming restoration of Futuro 22 are being recorded online on Craig's website futurohouse.co.uk. We will continue to update here but we strongly recommend you check out his site, there will always be more detail there. Links are listed below.
As a child Craig Barnes visited South Africa with his family and saw the Futuro House in Port Alfred. Over the coming years he returned many times often dreaming of one day owning his own Futuro House.
In April 2013, in one of those stories that prove sometimes dreams do come true (hope for another "wannabee Futuro owner" maybe?), Craig found himself agreeing to buy the Futuro from the previous owner, Art du Randt.
That decision rushed him into what we can only imagine were a very frantic few days as he proceeded to figure out how to ship the unit to the UK, disassemble the Futuro ready for shipping and get it dispatched over the course of only five days. Two months later the Futuro was safely in storage in Herefordshire, UK and Craig was starting to think about the restoration of the Futuro.
The departure of the Futuro for foreign shores prompted the report shown at left in the local Port Elizabeth Herald newspaper 051113.
This week Craig launched his website futurohouse.co.uk where he provides a great deal of detail about the unit, its history, the move to the UK and his plans for the Future. He includes many photos and he has posted a series videos to YouTube; with Craig's kind permission many of these are displayed below but we would strongly encourage you to visit Craig's site for more details and future updates.
Craig is currently considering where and how the unit will "live next". About the restoration project Craig tells us that in:
"Preserving & restoring the original fiberglass structure and interior, we plan to sympathetically embellish it with some modern conveniences which would have seemed out of this world in 1968, whilst retaining its unique atmosphere and ambience."
Craig is encouraging potential collaborators or sponsors to get involved and if you have an interest in this Craig can be contacted by email.
Craig also recounts what he knows of the history of the Futuro on his site which, as is the case with so many Futuros, is somewhat limited. It seems that a company by the name of Futuro Enterprises PTY based out of Port Elizabeth was licensed to manufacture Futuro Houses in South Africa. We can find virtually no information on this company though Hoovers does record a company by the name of Futuro Enterprises (PTY) LTD with the listed address being 79 Main Pretoria Rd, Sandton and not Port Elizabeth. Sandton is a little north of Johannesburg while Port Elizabeth is on the coast but almost certainly this is the same company (a company's registered office is often at a different location to where they operate).
There is no known record of how many units might have been manufactured in South Africa; Craig contends there was a single unit produced and we tend to agree. There is a Futuro shown in the Mika Taanila's film Futuro - A New Stance for Tomorrow; shown in the screenshot to the left. While this is clearly not the location in Port Alfred the characteristics of the unit are the same and with there being no record of another Futuro then or since it seems quite likely that the shot in the film is of the same unit prior to it arriving in Port Alfred.
Craig also mentions one other report of a Futuro in South Africa, we have come across such reports before but we never came across anything that might substantiate the reports and we have not had the time to research ourselves.
Craig tells of a report of a:
"roadhouse in Johannesburg that burned down in the 60's, at a junction on Piering Road that still today is called Flying Saucer corner on traffic bulletins"
Other reports we have come across include:
"In ... the 60's or 70's there used to be a road house in the shape of a flying saucer, on the road from Pretoria to Kempton Park. It was close to the Waterkloof airbase and burned down somewhere in the early 70s."
"The road house was close to where the R21/N1 freeway interchange is now, in Elardus Park. Its business was cut off when the freeway to Kempton Park was built. There is a Piering Road in the area and the interchange is known as the Flying Saucer interchange or Flieende Piering.(sp?) in the traffic reports. As for the burning down, according to the old-timers who knew the place before and after the freeways were built, well, it is easier than organizing a flood ..."
Craig found the time to investigate and came across the photo at left which clearly shows that the building did indeed resemble a flying saucer but equally clearly shows it was not a Futuro.
Our thanks to Craig for sharing his story and that of Futuro 22 and allowing us to share it with you here. we wish him well as he gets to grips with the restoration project and look forward to following the story as the new "life" of Futuro 22 begins to take shape.
This first series of photos, and the video that follows, documents the exterior of this Futuro:
Next we get a look at the Futuros interior.
This series of photos and the accompanying video document the dis-assembly of the Futuro in preparation for shipping to the UK.
Finally we have a look at the arrival and unloading of the Futuro on arrival in the UK.
Original Information 071413
In email correspondence over the last few days we have learned that the Futuro House previously located at 22 High St, Port Alfred, South Africa has been sold. The Futuro House has been disassembled and shipped to the United Kingdom and currently remains in storage.
We are unable to publish more detailed information at this time though we hope to be able to do so in the coming weeks.
As a British expat it is great to see a Futuro in the United Kingdom once more. The only other documented one, once located in Todmorden, has long since disappeared.