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.
Note that this is a just sample list of some available resources not a list of all of the multitude of specific sources used in the ongoing research supporting this website; a list of general sources referenced on the main pages can be found on the Acknowledgements Page page and in addition each specific section of the website also includes a list of sources relating to that specific section. In fact there are a large number of resources and sources referenced and linked on most of pages on this website so please do not expect everything to be in this sample list.
Other than this website perhaps the most authoritative resource available on the Futuro House is the book Futuro - Tomorrow's House from Yesterday By Marko Home and Mika Taanila. The book was a natural follow up to Mika Taanila's 1998 film "Futuro - A New Stance for Tomorrow" and a DVD of the film is included with the book along with an additional 45 minutes or so of rare footage from several countries. The book is not cheap but if you can find a reasonably priced copy it will not only be a fascinating read but it could also quite possibly be a sound investment as copies seem to range in price from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars (at the time of writing). A review of the book can be found here.
Of course if you have no wish to spend that kind of money on a book there are plenty of other resources out there; a Google search for "Futuro House" will return thousands of results. Many of them that we have found interesting are listed here but you will find others if you look. And please let us know what you find out there - we are always looking for newer and/or more accurate information.
Yes - before you ask - many of these books are linked to Amazon. We are not trying to persuade you to buy them. In fact, even with our obsession, to date we have purchased only some of them. Many of the books have only a page or two related to the Futuro and in almost all cases you can see that content online before choosing to buy (mostly at either Google Books or on Amazon).
Having said all of that if you did plan to buy one of them and it was priced right on Amazon could it hurt to do so from here. It would cost you the same but it would also push just a little our way and every little helps us keep up this site and continue to research the Futuro and add new and updated content. So if you enjoy this site and there is a book you are going to buy anyway consider using these links.
We offer only one suggestion; the Marko Home book could be considered an investment. Out of print now and very expensive it does seem to be increasing in value. When we first started researching Futuro's it mostly cost around $200; that number is now around $350 and on up.
FUTURO - The House of Tomorrow: Compiled From Relics In CyberSpace
For the record this "book" is listed here - it is not linked to Amazon however. If you really want to look at it or even buy it on Amazon you can find it there. However be warned this is just a book made up of some scans off the internet and some shameless self promotion of other products. I highly recommend you DO NOT purchase this.
For the record this "book" is listed here but be warned - it is a complete rip off. The "book" is actually just a series of articles copied from Wikipedia and bound together as a book. I highly recommend you DO NOT purchase this.
Published by the Espoo Museum Of Modern Art which owns Futuro 001 this issue of EMMA contains a two page article recounting the emergence, in the 1990's, of the Futuro into the world of contemporary art.
Page 12 through 15 features an article about the La Defense area of Paris. Included is am aerial photo of the area where the Futuro now located in Saint-Ouen is visible [though extremely small and blurred].
Barney Vincelette has lived his Futuro House in Houston, DE for over 40 years and over those years he has carried out all manner of work associated with his home all designed to be in keeping with the "essence of Futuro".
Recently he emailed us with some information about his custom sound system and his intent to make himself available to assist in such an endeavor for other Futuro owners should they be interested. There are photos below; as for the story we thought rather than try to paraphrase Barney it would be most appropriate to let Barney speak for himself by simply inserting the story here exactly as Barney relayed it to us:
"In the mid 1970's when I contacted Mr Fruchter of Casa 2 Corporation to buy a Futuro house, and when Futuro house manufacturing plants were shutting down, the Futuro was being sold as either a shell with flooring, heating, and air conditioning, or a fully furnished model. Eventually the fully furnished model was offered with a built-in stereo system.
When I finally bought a Futuro, none were being built anymore so Mr. Fruchter referred me to his Delaware dealer, Joe Hudson. The one I bought was a rental property which was fully furnished without a built-in stereo.
There are two approaches to owning a Futuro.
The first, which we should esteem, is as a piece of history which is restored for museum piece history to match the original configuration frozen in the technology of the 1960's. We should all support those curators who perform this public service.
The second is to keep the timeless design of this house of the future and improve such things as heating and air conditioning with advances in technology. We must recognize that a first prototype or a first generation can be improved upon and perfected as can any masterpiece. When Mahler published his Second Symphony in 1889 he continued to revise and perfect it until 1910. I think Matti Suuronen would approve of improving the Futuro as new technologies become available.
This is why I replaced the cable and motor system in the retractable stairs with something simpler and better, why I replaced the chimney with an acrylic dome to end heat loss and rain leakage and the impracticality of the indoor fire pod. This is why I replaced the obsolete and inefficient electric heat and duct-work with a Geothermal system which cut winter heating bills to less than 1/3 of what they had been.
If a Futuro is to have a stereo, I think it should have a sound system appropriate thereto. Like anything else in so radical a piece of architecture there is no need to restrain the kind of sound system to what would be accepted in a normal contemporary house. Sound systems and home theaters change as technology advances so an original built-in stereo system will not be the same as one from the 1960's.
After having to quit my teaching job at a university far enough away from my home that I had to rent an apartment, and a bad boss who was trying to get e to go into debt by not allowing me to choose my own hotel or apartment to use during the work week and wanting me to sell my Futuro and relocate, I am now living on social security and odd jobs. Before I quit I started designing and building a new sound system which I think is appropriately Wagnerian in style for my Futuro. At a fraction of a percent of the $350,000 price of the WAVAC 833A stereo system I built what I think is a more musical sounding system which uses the 833A radio station transmitting tube to drive inefficient but very pure sounding Magnepan speakers. It took me almost a year to perfect it and I am attaching pictures of it.
I hope it might be possible to be commissioned by someone who would like to have such a stereo amplifier to custom build one for them. But it would take almost $2000 in parts and it would take me two months to build it. I would want to be paid something comparable to what I was paid before I lost much of my take-home pay to what amounted to a legal loophole method of wage theft for the labor of building it. Thus, I would want $15,000 to build something which I think outclasses the $350,000 stereo for reasons I will go over in the unlikely event I run into someone who would be interested.
I would also guide anyone who wanted to build it him/herself after spending enough time with such a person making certain he/she would know how to safely deal with the 1000 Volts which powers the 833A vacuum tubes. Additionally, for anyone who would like to go through with this, either hiring me to build it or for a lower hourly fee to be agreed upon in advance, guide a DIY person I would want to have that person visit me in person to audition the one I built to make certain of something in which I have confidence; such a stereo sounds more spectacular than anything they have ever heard before.
What I am attempting is a long shot and I am getting help from my first flight training student to earn a pilot license and I want to treat anyone I work with fair. I am open to guidance in this possible enterprise."
We considered putting in a bid on the unit; while we dream of owning our own Futuro realistically we are unlikely to ever be in a position to realize that dream. More realistically we are planning to, at some point, turn one room in our home into a sort of "Futuro Room" and we figured the Chair/Bed unit would be a cool "center piece." Even at the low end of the estimate we would have been stretching it and in the end we decided not to bid and it turned out the low end of the estimate would not have made it anyway; the unit sold for €4,500.
Full auction details are now available online. The unit is Lot #38 and advance registration of bids is now open. The estimate is listed as €3,000 to €4,000.
On 060314 German art auction house Quittenbaum will auction an original Futuro House Chair/Bed Unit. The full details of the auction are not yet on the auctioneers website but the unit will be a lot in Auction 115A "Scandinavian Design"; full details are expected to be online 051014. We are told that around €3,000 will be the price estimate for this lot.
So if you need to replace a Chair/Bed unit now is your chance. Perhaps you are restoring a Futuro and need to fabricate units but have no plans; this could be an original example to work from. Perhaps you are like us and collect Futuro memorabilia and might want to add this authentic item to your collection (we would love to but at that price we am not too sure it is for us; will have to wait and watch the auction). In any case, whatever the reason if you are interested in an original Futuro Chair/Bed Unit this will likely be one of the few chances that come along to own one short of purchasing an entire Futuro House.
The images below of the item being auctioned are courtesy of Quittenbaum.
Do you own a US Futuro? Restoring a US Futuro to original? Needs parts for the stove? Barney Vincelette, owner and resident of the Houston Futuro has this advice:
"Many Futuro houses came with a Princess stove, some use 120 volts connected to a 30 Ampere circuit breaker and there is a 240 Volt wire if the stove is designed for that voltage. But most appliance stores do not carry parts for this stove. You can order burner elements, stove switches, and wiring sockets from David P. Anderson, Sure Marine Service, 5320 28th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107-4147, www.suremarine.com."
Dr. Barney Vincelette is the owner of the Houston Futuro and has actually lived in his Futuro for some 36 years (at the time of writing - since 1977).
While there have been some remarkable restorations of Futuros (notably at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the Netherlands and at the WeeGee Exhibition Center in Espoo, Finland) there are probably few who have the practical experience of dealing with the day to day maintenance and repair of a functional, lived in, Futuro House that Barney does.
This video, recently posted to YouTube by Barney, is the first entry in this new section of the Resources page devoted to some of the practical issues of owning a Futuro House. In time hopefully this will grow into a useful reference for those who are fortunate enough to own a Futuro (perhaps even one day myself though it is hard to see how that would ever come about given the likely cost of purchasing, relocating and refurbishing a Futuro House but we can all dream).
Barney's video "Customizing Your Futuro House" talks to three different customization/repair projects for a Futuro House:
Installing a 16" acrylic bubble dome skylight in place of the chimney.
Setting up a new winch system for raising and lowering the steps.
Paint to protect the gel coat from ultra-violet light.
Barney Vincelette, owner and resident of the Houston Futuro has lived in his Futuro House for well in excess of thirty years and so has a wealth of experience in dealing with maintenance issues. Barney wrote to us recently to share this advice on windows for anyone restoring or maintaining a Futuro House.
"Some American Futuro houses came with double glass windows with about 1/4" sealed space between them. These windows were designed to improve insulation, but unfortunately they sooner or later lost their seal and dew condensed between the panes of glass so Joe Hudson replaced the windows in his Futuro with single pane.
While I do not have access to sophisticated heat loss measuring equipment, I cut some Plexiglass windows that with a little care can be fitted inside the glass windows in the rubber mounts to improve heat loss. Plexiglass seems to have less thermal conductivity than glass so I think this is a good way to improve the overall insulation of a Futuro house. Also, it is easy to remove it to clean windows.
The best place I know to buy it is E Street Plastics in Texas. They have the best prices, better than any local prices you are likely to find and more choices. I suggest 1/8" thick but 1/4" is not out of the question. Also you can get it tinted or any color you want if you would like some of the windows to be green, blue, red, or any of the fluorescent options they have."