Abandoned Futuro House in Royse City, Texas (photograph by Steve Rainwater/Flickr)
A year or so ago an Atlas Obscura user submitted a curious building that appeared like a forgotten alien crash site. The UFO-shaped house in Royse City, Texas, sits alone in an overgrown field, a vision of some solitary failed retrofuture dream.
Which is why when we shared it online, we were surprised when so many people responded with their UFO house sightings around the world,
The Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s. Made of new materials like plastic and manufactured to be portable and adaptable to diverse terrain with its raised legs, the capsule house was imagined as a ski chalet with a quick heating system.
You entered through a hatch to an elliptical space with a bedroom, bathroom, fireplace, and living room.
Suuronen soon saw its potential beyond the slopes, and through the Futuro Corporation built the lightweight houses as a prefabricated, compact housing solution adaptable for any corner of the globe.
Due to its unusual space age-influenced design, and the oil crisis of 1973 that made plastic expensive, under 100 of the houses were made. Around 60 of those survive, and they’ve dispersed all over the globe like a covert invasion of extraterrestrials that got canceled decades ago.
Some look new, such as one in gleaming yellow on top of the WeeGee exhibition center outside of Helsinki, or another recently restored as a study space at the University of Canberra in Australia.
Others are anomalies in the urban landscape, including one in Tampa, Florida, that’s a strip club VIP room, while at Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston, Illinois, a battered model mingles with other kitsch from the past like a Twistee Treat shack and a Muffler Man.