DESIGNING THE FUTURE
The words visionary and futuristic are generally used as high praise in architectural criticism. But I’m not so sure. Most architectural visions, whether it’s Mendelsohn, Marinetti, or Sant’Elia have not proved accurate–how could they? Too many unpredictable things change, technologically, politically, culturally. “Cities of the future” generally look quaint, decades on. The most interesting visions are the ones that accept odd blends of past and future, like the dystopian metropolis in Blade Runner, or the techno/medieval Village in the TV series The Prisoner (whose setting was actually Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’s Portmeirion). But “visionary” architecture tends to offer a consistent aesthetic, all Erector set, or all curves, or all something. Looks great on the cover of the architecture rag, but what about in 50 years? The Futuro House, for example, designed by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, is a fiberglass flying saucer, and the astronautical theme is carried through in the porthole windows, the curvy interior furnishing, and the door/steps that swing down like a plane’s access panel. It must have seemed like the future in the 1960s. The one pictured here, mated with a more earthbound structure, is in Pensacola Beach, Florida. It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.