There are UFO sightings every day, but they aren’t the kind you imagine.
Instead of alien spaceships flying high in the sky, we’re talking about Futuro Houses: UFO-shaped prefab homes originally built in the late 1960s. These rare homes are located all around the world, from Los Angeles to Antarctica and from New Jersey to Estonia.
According to TheFuturoHouse.com—an extensive website dedicated to documenting the unique structures—at least 80 to 100 Futuros were manufactured, some were destroyed, and a handful are still waiting to be discovered.
But around 64 of the UFO houses are scattered in different countries, still standing and causing locals and visitors alike to do a double take. After all, it’s not often that you see a real-life UFO.
Why were the Futuro Houses built and what do the insides look like? In honor of this unique structure, we’ve answered these questions and rounded up the best photos from across the world.
History and design
In the late 1960s, Dr. Jaakko Hiidenkari commissioned Finnish architect Matti Suuronen to design a ski chalet that could be relocated from central Finland to elsewhere. Hiidenkari wanted a structure that would heat quickly and could be built easily on rough terrain.
The solution? Suuronen took inspiration from the space-obsessed 1960s and designed an elliptical house on a metal frame; To any observer it looked exactly like a flying saucer.
Inside, a lack of right angles meant everything took place in-the-round, from the built-in seating to the windows. You entered the Futuro through a hatch—another element that cemented the intergalactic comparison—and the structure featured a bedroom, bathroom, fireplace, and living room.
An electric heating system allowed the house to be heated from -20 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in only 30 minutes. In all, the Futuro House could sleep up to eight people, most in the round living room that featured a central fireplace.
According to The Futuro House, Suuronen’s design was originally manufactured in Finland and later licensed for manufacture in other countries. It used cheap materials—fiberglass reinforced with plastic—and the building’s 16 prefab pieces could be mass-produced, transported to a building site, and bolted together with relative ease. Once at their final location, the capsule house stood on raised legs—adaptable to almost any terrain—built on four concrete piers.
The first Futuros cost $14,000. And the capsule’s innovative design held appeal beyond ski resorts. The Futuro Corporation that built the lightweight houses believed that the prefab structures could be a low-cost, easy-to-assemble housing solution in any environment.
Unfortunately, the 1973 oil crisis increased the cost of plastic—a key ingredient—and made the Futuro almost three times more expensive. Higher costs limited production and doomed the Futuro to the dust bin of history as an architectural oddity, instead of an affordable housing solution.
Where are they now?
A big part of the Futuro’s appeal was in its ease of transport. So it’s not surprising that, despite the Futuro’s limited production, the structures still ended up all over the world.
Since the early 1970s, Futuro Houses have mostly been transported in sections, by road, and then assembled on site. But there are also documented cases of a Futuro being airlifted by helicopter or transported by road fully assembled.
While some Futuros have been abandoned, others—like this turquoise version that sits on the roof of the Central Saint Martins college in London—have been lovingly restored by artists or architecture lovers. At times, a Futuro will even pop up for sale on eBay.
The Futuro House website has mapped all of the known locations of Futuros. At least 15 of them are still standing in the United States, and there are quite a few of the capsule buildings in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. The most unique locations with confirmed Futuros are Antarctica (with two of the houses) and Japan (with one building).
A few more photos of Futuro Houses from around the world
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