CHICAGO (ACNI) - An extraordinary modern object known as "Futuro" has landed at Wright's Chicago gallery for inclusion in their June 2nd Important Design sale.
When created in 1968 by architect Matti Suuronen, the prefab flying-saucer-shape dwelling went where no mobile home had gone before - into the remote woods of Finland and the annals of science fiction by means of a helicopter drop.
According to Futuro lore, the 1968 Jetsonesque abode came about when a friend of Suuronen's commissioned him to design a modern ski cabin for his property in central Finland. Because the rugged terrain was difficult to access by motor vehicle, the solution was to fabricate something that was easy to assemble and light enough to transport by chopper. Inside, it should be streamlined, wired to function electrically at the push of a button, and fitted with seating that easily converted to beds.
Futuro answered all those requirements and more, with such desirable extra features as a Futuro fireplace, airplane hatch-type entry, drop-down front steps and adjustable steel legs that allowed snowstorms to blow through.
About 100 Futuros were built during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The living space in each had a height of 9.8 feet and a diameter measuring over 26 feet. Composed of polyester plastic and Fiberglas, the Futuro was also a presciently "green" habitat. Because of its integrated polyurethane insulation and electric heating system, the house could be heated to a comfortable temperature (from -20 to 60 degrees) in only 30 minutes.
In postwar Finland, the prospects seemed unlimited for Futuro. Its lightweight, 16-module design could be shipped easily to any point on earth. It could be erected anywhere there was a piece of land with four concrete piers, and assembly took two days or less.
An excerpt from a February 1970 copy of Architecture D'Aujourd'Hui described Futuro as: "The first model in a series of holiday homes to be licensed in 50 countries, already mass-produced in the United States, Australia and Belgium." They were adapted for non-residential use as clubhouses, air force observation hubs, offices, and even as a bank, in New Jersey. The original retail price for a Futuro was $12,000 to $14,000.
Production of the futuristic house came to a halt sometime in the mid 1970s. Some say poor marketing was the culprit, but it's also possible that the oil crisis of that period, which sent the prices of petroleum-based plastics sky high, was the reason for its demise.
The number of surviving Futuros is not known, but there have been sightings everywhere from the coastal South Island of New Zealand to the mountainous landscape of far West Texas. The example in Wright's June 2nd sale, which is estimated at $50,000-$75,000 and requires interior restoration, comes from a Colorado consignor.
"We've had a lot of international interest in the lot," said Wright's owner, Richard Wright. "Calls have come from Japan, Europe, Los Angeles, New York...I think most people are thinking of it as a possible guesthouse."
The next stop for Wright's iconic Futuro could be anywhere in the world, if not beyond, since there will Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com on auction day.
Visit the fully illustrated catalog and sign up to bid absentee or live via the Internet on auction day at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
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