I had an interesting experience yesterday evening: I took part in a tour of the Futuro House, located at Central Saint Martins near King’s Cross. The house, which is on loan to CSM for the summer, is located on a upper terrace of the Granary Building. We met at the ground floor reception and were taken upstairs to view the house; once inside, we were treated to a talk by the owner, Craig Barnes, who explained the story behind these houses, told us how he ended up with this one, and gave us a potted history of what has happened to it since he took it over.
The Futuro House was designed in the 1960s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. It was last seen in London sailing down the Thames on a ferry, as part of the houses’ launch at a FinnFocus trade exhibition. It was designed to be a skiing lodge or weekend retreat: personally, I feel that the oval windows that go all the way around the house make it ideal for making the most of stunning views, while the lack of curtains mean that it only really works when placed in a reasonably remote location.
Described as “the holiday home of the future”, the house was one of several prefabricated designs made in the 1950s and 60s. Unfortunately, despite the initial popularity of such designs, the Futuro was not a commercial success: possibly because of the growing price of oil, which made it much more expensive to produce.
Today, only around 65 Futuro Houses are known to exist. Craig Barnes found this one in South Africa: he used to love visiting the “spaceship house” as a child, and when he grew older managed to buy it, disassemble it and ship it back to the UK. Over the course of many months he worked on it, with the assistance of friends, family and colleagues, until it once again became a viable piece of architecture. He has tried as far as possible to restore the original design, but there is much still to do.
The house is on loan to CSM for the summer, and as well as public tours, which take place every month, it is freely bookable by CSM staff and students for meetings and other activities. Barnes is glad that it is being used and enjoyed, but admits there are no firm plans for the house beyond September – it may go back into storage, at least temporarily, but he hopes that it will have a future life (and so do I).
If you would like to visit this incredible house, you can book a tour on the first Wednesday of every month, which costs £5.