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Jumilla, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When UFO Homes Were Almost Considered Ski Lodge Alternatives

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Jumilla, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When looking for a place to stay during a ski vacation, most people might think of rustic lodges with decor accents inspired by the pioneer days. Finnish architect Matti Suuronen had a different era in mind when he designed the Futuro Home in the 1960s: quirky, futuristic structures that looked like the flying saucers pictured in cartoons. At least 64 of these UFOs for humans can be found scattered across the globe, confusing passersby and intriguing lovers of retrofuturism.

The project to build these Jetsons-esque ski chalets was commissioned by Dr. Jaakko Hiidenkari, who was looking for buildings that could be built in Finland and relocated to rocky, mountainous areas. Taking inspiration from the alien-obsessed culture of the time, Suuronen decided to make round homes with built-in seating and a hatch entrance at the bottom.

Despite the lack of corners or hard edges, each Futuro Home still has a bedroom, bathroom, fireplace, and living room. And although there's only one bedroom, each home can reasonably fit eight people, if the guests are willing to sleep in the living room. The shape allows for an electric heating system to heat the home from -20°F to 60°F in half an hour, according to Curbed. There's also a fireplace in the living room for extra warmth and ambience.

The small homes may have had some amenities and a space-age aesthetic, but the true selling point was how the design could be mass-produced quickly and cheaply; the first Futuro Home only cost between $12,000 and $14,000 to slap together, which made it an economically appealing alternative to ski lodges. Each structure is made up of 16 prefab pieces that can be transported and assembled on-site, similar to IKEA furniture. Raised legs—another distinct UFO feature—allow the buildings to stand up on all terrain.

Unfortunately, the oil crisis of 1973 proved to be a formidable obstacle—it caused a major spike in the cost of plastic, which is a key ingredient in the homes. With an inflated price tag, the homes lost their appeal.

Futuro Home production might have ended a long time ago, but that doesn't mean people have forgotten about the charming lodging. TheFuturoHouse.com documents the locations of these homes. According to their website, at least 80 to 100 of these unusual buildings were created. Though some have been destroyed and others are still hidden, about 64 Futuro Homes are still around, and at least 15 of those are in the United States.

While this architectural wonder might not have taken off, you can see other attempts at capturing alien chic, like with these bauble homes in Holland.

[h/t Curbed]

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Design
Watch an Artist Build a Secret Studio Beneath an Overpass
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Lebrel

Artists can be very particular about the spaces where they choose to do their work. Furniture designer Fernando Abellanas’s desk may not boast the quietest or most convenient location on Earth, but it definitely wins points for seclusion. According to Co.Design, the artist covertly constructed his studio beneath a bridge in Valencia, Spain.

To make his vision a reality, Abellanas had to build a metal and plywood apparatus and attach it to the top of an underpass. After climbing inside, he uses a crank to wheel the box to the top of the opposite wall. There, the contents of his studio, including his desk, chair, and wall art, are waiting for him.

The art nook was installed without permission from the city, so Abellanas admits that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities dismantle it or it's raided by someone else. While this space may not be permanent, he plans to build others like it around the city in secret. You can get a look at his construction process in the video below.

[h/t Co.Design]

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architecture
One of Frank Lloyd Wright's Final Residential Designs Goes on Sale in Ohio
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In case you’ve missed the many recent sales of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed real estate, you have yet another chance to secure yourself a historical starchitect home. The Louis Penfield House is being sold by its original owners, and it could be yours for a cool $1.3 million. The restored Usonian home in Willoughby Hills, Ohio has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003.

The house is currently a vacation rental and, depending on the preference of the new owner, it could continue to operate as a tourist destination. Or you could take it over as your private residence, which sounds pretty luxurious. It still has a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled living room that looks out on the Chagrin River, and comes with all the original furniture Wright designed. Like Wright’s other Usonian homes, it has a radiant-floor heating system that draws on a natural gas well onsite.

A retro-looking living room features floor-to-ceiling windows.
A bedroom is filled with vintage wooden furniture.

Around the same time as the original commission, Louis and Pauline Penfield also asked Wright to create another house on an adjacent property, and that home would prove to be the architect’s final residential design. It was still on the drawing board when he died unexpectedly in 1959. The sale of the Penfield House includes the original plans for the second house, called Riverrock, so you’d be getting more like 1.5 Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Seems like a pretty good deal to us.

All images via Estately

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