John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for APNZ.

Spaceship home flies off to explore southern frontier

The Futuro house in Raglan is heading to Christchurch. Photo / Michael Craig
The Futuro house in Raglan is heading to Christchurch. Photo / Michael Craig

Like a spaceship taking off after a quick visit, Raglan's Futuro house is off to a new destination.

The home's previous owner Peter Farrell, a former sea captain, died last year, leaving his flying saucer-lookalike empty.

This summer, the Raglan house will shift to Canterbury. Ray White Raglan director Julie Hanna said a Futuro fan from Christchurch bought it at auction.

"We just sold that for removal at $80,000 just for the spaceship. I think they're going to dismantle it and take it away on the back of a truck."

Futuros were generally made of 16 pieces of polyester plastic and fibreglass-based material.

Artist Judy Darragh and production designer Grant Major owned a Futuro home in Dunedin. Darragh said Futuros were warm as they were designed as ski cabins. Some were built in Christchurch under licence.

Darragh said their formica-heavy interior decor resembled a caravan's. "It is also part of New Zealand design history in a sense, particularly with the Christchurch connection."

Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed the elliptical Futuro in the late 1960s, when the space race and science fiction films captured public imagination. At first cheap to build, some expected prefabricated plastic homes to gain global domination, until the 1970s oil crisis sent plastic prices soaring.

The Netherlands, New Zealand and California had the most surviving Futuro houses, according to Futuro-house.net.

Many featured aeroplane-style hatch doors and most contained plastic decor and fittings.

Playboy's Hugh Hefner reputedly owned an example and others became observatories, cafes and even a US Air Force recruitment office.

Futuros were where "the Teletubbies might live, with Barbarella as a frequent houseguest," the New York Times wrote in 2005.

- Herald on Sunday

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