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Jumilla, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Jumilla, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When UFO Homes Were Almost Considered Ski Lodge Alternatives

Jumilla, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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