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PLASTICS AS BUILDING STRUCTURE AND ENVELOPE

CASE STUDIES

Futuro

1  Futuro in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.  2  The Futuro is assembled out of prefabricated modules.  3 Interior with radially arranged reclining seats.  4  Section and floor plan.

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Location  different locations worldwide Material  GRP, PUR, polycarbonate Completion  1968

Architecture  Matti Suuronen Structural engineering  Yrjö Ronkka

Futuro, a house with just one room, is one of the few plastic houses to have been serially-produced and is regarded as a milestone in the history of plastic archi-

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tecture. The story of the Futuro house began with a client’s desire for a ski chalet that could be heated quickly and was easy to erect in difficult-to-reach terrain. The building needed to be able to be assembled or dismantled within two days and transportable with a helicopter to the desired location. The concept of the Futuro as a modular plastic house is largely a product of these requirements. The form of the rotational ellipsoid with a circular plan can be attributed primarily to geometric considerations and production engineering requirements. Futuro consists of eight upper and eight lower individual segments, all of which are identical to enable them to be produced economically. With a diameter of 7.80 m, the house provides a net area of 50 m2. The house is borne by a slender circular steel

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ring which is supported by four steel outriggers. The prototype was built in 1968 by Polykem Ltd. in Finland. The Futuro was exhibited alongside numerous other plastic houses at the first plastic housing exhibition in Lüdenscheid, Germany, in 1971. The plastic envelope of the building is able to sustain and dissipate loads as a result of its shell structure and flexural bending. It consists of GRP sandwich elements, which reduce the weight of the structure and provide it with adequate thermal insulation. The overall weight of the plastic building is 2500 kg without contents or 4000 kg with contents. The rigid PUR foam core has grooves on its outer surface to allow condensation runoff. The individual segments are bolted together through stabilising ribs at the edges of the elements. The house is accessed through a trap door that folds out of the wall and when closed fits flush with the exterior of the building. In practice, the Futuro served numerous different functions. A series of interior furnishings and furniture for different uses was specially developed and marketed. The standard furnishings included sanitary cell, kitchen unit, six radially arranged reclining seats, a double or two single beds and an oven grill. Manufacturing licences were sold to 25 countries around the world. Although precise figures are not available, an estimated 60 Futuros are thought to have been built. The Futuro rapidly advanced to become an iconic building of the avant-garde but like many other plastic houses found few admirers among the general public and did not sell as well as envisaged, not least because of its comparatively high price. It represents an experimental attempt to part with conventional notions of housing and develop a new form appropriate to a new material.

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PLASTICS in Architecture and Construction  
PLASTICS in Architecture and Construction  

This book seeks to fill that gap by providing an introduction to the structural and design possibilities of plastic. It introduces the mater...

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