A photo, above, posted on Facebook of a miserably derelict flying saucer-like house abandoned in Media made me curious. A little research told me that the “Futuro” house, as it was called, was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronem, right, in 1968, as a kind of prefabricated, portable ski chalet. At 9,000 pounds, with a width of 26 feet, the “portable” part was debatable.
Fewer than 100 of them were made and it’s estimated that about 60 of them still exist, scattered around the world. A few of them have been preserved and are on display, some have been repurposed, many of them are abandoned and are disintegrating.
According to the “Map of the Last Remaining Flying Saucer Homes” http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/a-map-of-the-last-remaining-flying-saucer-homes, there are five of them nearby in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The Willingboro, New Jersey one, below, while retaining its four metal legs, has been bizarrely hacked with a new entrance.
As it happened, the molded fiberglass houses, although designed in Finland, were manufactured by the Futuro Corporation of Philadelphia, a short-lived division of the Fruchter construction company that was based at 1900 Rittenhouse Square.
H. Leonard Fruchter, who had a keen interest in architecture, got permission from the city to display a Futuro House to the public in Logan Square over the fall and winter of 1969-1970. The Fairmount Park Commission charged a 50 cents entry fee to raise money for a project called “Better Break––’69” that supported summer programs for children from low income families. Fruchter said “It makes Philadelphia look like a modern place. . . Don’t you think it makes the city look exciting? Like, avant garde. Like, already part of the 21st Century.” You can judge for yourself by the picture, below, that appeared in the Inquirer in March of 1970, after the Futuro was closed up and had become more of an eyesore than a novelty in Logan Square:
Futuro of Philadelphia ceased production about 1978, but the Fruchter Company still retains sole rights for their production.
Below are some exciting full color photos from the original Futuro brochure.
The future is now.