A new addition to the London landscape, a turquoise spaceship atop an art school, may look like a student installation. But the lovingly restored relic of prefab construction actually points back to an earlier, optimistic era of design. A 26-foot-wide house designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the '60s meant as a portable ski chalet, the fiberglass-clad donut known as the Futuro house took inspiration from streamlined, space age design and grain silos. Suuronen's unique creation, technically a rotating ellipsoid, is supposedly able to be heated in a mere 30 minutes. Marketed in numerous countries, only 60 or so of the buildings were ever made. Despite capturing the zeitgeist as well as press attention, including an appearance in Playboy and a porn film called "The Goddesses of Galaxia," the structures never really caught on. The homes were greeted with skepticism, were hard to finance, and went out of favor during the oil crisis of the'70s, when the price of plastic skyrocketed. A few dozen of these oddities still exist, including the one on the roof of Central Saint Martins.
The installation of the Futuro was the passion project of former graduate and artist Craig Barnes, who spotted the home in South Africa during vacation and eventually bought the residential oddity he'd coveted for years. Assembled atop the school in September after being on display in a gallery—Barnes profiled the purchase and restoration on his website—the pod will be used as a meeting room and event space by the collage, and is available for rent.