Munich ; FUTURO ‘Flying Saucer in Town’

by Venetia Kapernekas

published on June 3, 2017

Deities, conspiracies, politics, space aliens: you don’t actually have to believe in these to find them interesting ” Perhaps  Carl Gustav Jung  (psychotherapist and onetime Freud protégé)  treated UFOs this way when he wrote his book Flying Saucers: ‘A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies’  which examines “not the reality or unreality” of the titular phenomena, but their “psychic aspect’ …However, Dr Angelika Nollert (director of the Design Museum) and her team anchored FUTURO at  the courtyard of Pinakothek der Moderne.

FUTURO  landing (Dr Angelika Nollert and her team with the editor of Süddeutsche zeitung ) photo © Venetia Kapernekas

The FUTURO house was acquired in 2016 for Die Neue Sammlung and it is now on show for the first time after comprehensive restoration work. Apart from a continuous bench right round, its circular, open-plan room boasts no interior fittings. The FUTURO house in Munich was initially purchased by Stiebel Eltron in the early 1970s and erected on the company site in Vlotho. It was subsequently acquired by the Charles-Wilp-Museum in Witten in 2012. From there, it has moved to Munich. In the 1970s, artist, graphic designer and composer Wilp owned a FUTURO house which was wrapped by Christo in 1970 and in which artists such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenbourg and Yves Klein guested; it has not, unfortunately, survived.
Curated by Dipl. Rest. Univ. Tim Bechthold, Dr. Caroline Fuchs and Dr. Angelika Nollert

A flying saucer (also referred to as a flying disc) is a descriptive term for a supposed type of flying craft having a disc or saucer-shaped body, commonly used generically to refer to an anomalous flying object. The term was coined in 1930 but has generally been supplanted since 1952 by the United States Air Force term unidentified flying objects or UFO’s. 

….”what it may signify that these phenomena, whether real or imagined, are seen in such numbers just at a time” — the Cold War — “when humankind is menaced as never before in history.” As what Jung called a “modern myth,” UFOs qualify as real indeed. (source: Carl Jung’s fascinating 1957  letter on UFOs at Open Culture)

Olotila FUTURO leaflet, detail, 1968-1969, Originally published by Polykem Oy Ab, producer of the FUTURO house. © Matti Suuronen, Espoo City Museum

There are unfortunately no records of how many FUTURO houses were sold in total. At a conservative estimate there were originally around 70 of them, of which around 60 are still in existence today.

FUTURO houses on a mountain, late 1960s. The photo was taken with scale models of the house. © Matti Suuronen, Espoo City Museum, photo: unknown

FUTURO was manufactured by Finnish company Polykem Ltd. as one of the world’s first mass-produced plastic houses and marketed internationally.

Olotila FUTURO leaflet, detail, 1968-1969, Originally published by Polykem Oy Ab, producer of the FUTURO house.© Matti Suuronen, Espoo City Museum

Its walls are made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester shells with a sandwich layer of polyurethane foam providing insulation. In order to make assembly and dismantling easier, the house was manufactured in 16 arc segments which could be assembled on site in the space of only two days. A total of 16 double-glazed windows afford a panoramic view right round.

FUTURO house. Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum © Jörg Koopmanno-Haus

With a diameter of eight meters and an overall height of just under six meters the building offers around 25 m² of living space which can be heated by electricity in less than 30 minutes. The building rests on a stable tubular steel frame. It has been designed so that it can even be erected on rough terrain and can withstand not only extreme temperatures, but also earthquakes and storms. The door doubles up as fold-out stairs similar to those on small private jets, and these can be used to access FUTURO, which seemingly floats on its steel base.

          Assembly of the FUTURO in front of the Pinakothek der Moderne © Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum (A. Laurenzo)

FUTURO. Detail © Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum

The FUTURO house at the Internationale Kunststoffhausausstellung (IKA) in Lüdenscheidt 1972. © Stadtarchiv Lüdenscheid, Bildsammlung, Werner Silla

Around dawn on April 14, 1561, residents of Nuremberg saw what they described as an aerial battle, followed by the appearance of a large black triangular object and then a large crash outside of the city. According to witnesses, there were hundreds of spheres, cylinders and other odd-shaped objects that moved erratically overhead

Celestial phenomenon over the German city of Nuremberg on April 14, 1561 as printed in an illustrated news notice in the same month (source: wiki)

A manuscript illustration of the 10th-century Japanese narrative, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, or The Tale of Princess Kaguya ( details the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant) depicts a round flying machine similar to a flying saucer.

….That summer, whenever Kaguya-hime saw the full moon, her eyes filled with tears. Though her adoptive parents worried greatly and questioned her, she was unable to tell them what was wrong. Her behaviour became increasingly erratic until she revealed that she was not of this world and must return to her people on the Moon. ……

A scene from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter | © Shibata Zeshin. photographed by Sharon Mollerus/Flickr

……As the day of her return approached, the Emperor sent many guards around her house to protect her from the Moon people, but when an embassy of “Heavenly Beings” arrived at the door of Taketori no Okina’s house, the guards were blinded by a strange light. Kaguya-hime announced that, though she loved her many friends on Earth, she must return with the Moon people to her true home. She wrote sad notes of apology to her parents and to the Emperor, then gave her parents her own robe as a memento.

Fata Morgana, a type of mirage, may be responsible for some flying saucers sightings, by displaying objects located below the astronomical horizon  hovering in the sky, and magnifying and distorting them.

The first documented patent for a lenticular flying machine was submitted by Romanian inventor Henri Coanda  He made a functional small scale model which was flown in 1932 and a patent was granted in 1935 . At a Symposionum organized by the Romanian Academy in 1967 Coanda said:

‘These airplanes we have today are no more than a perfection of a toy made of paper children use to play with. My opinion is we should search for a completely different flying machine, based on other flying principles. I consider the aircraft of the future, that which will take off vertically, fly as usual and land vertically. This flying machine should have no parts in movement. The idea came from the huge power of the cyclons”
The Avrocar,  a one -man flying saucer style aircraft

FUTURO (from inside view) photo ©Venetia Kapernekas

FUTURO house. Die Neue Sammlung – The Design Museum © Jörg Koopmann

 

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