Restoration of the Futuro Vlotho/Witten

Execution by Pamela Voigt: Supervision and documentation of the restoration as well as the dismantling and reassembly of the building shell, including the door.

  • Client: Pinakothek der Moderne, Die Neue Sammlung, Munich
  • Responsible conservator overall project: Tim Bechthold (Dipl.Rest.Univ.) Head of Conservation, Conservation Department, Die Neue Sammlung, Pinakothek der Moderne
  • Executing company: SKZ - Das Kunststoffzentrum, Halle / Saale
  • Period: 2016/17
  • Design: Matti Suuronen, Finland, 1965-67
  • Prototyp: March 1968 by Polykem Ltd, Helsinki
  • Serial production: 1968-78, by Polykem Ltd, Helsinki; a total of 20 units
  • A total of 25 licenses sold worldwide between 1969-73;
  • serial production: a total of approx. 60 units

History of the plastic house:

In September 1968, with the first publication of the first series production No. 001, the unparalleled fame of the world's most renowned plastic construction, the FUTURO, took off.

This developed the reputation of the previously forward-thinking and futuristic-looking plastics as “Space Art”. While the "House of the Future" (USA 1954) was advertised solely as a home for future generations, the FUTURO was and is a UFO par excellence.

The Finnish architect Matti Suuronen developed the holiday home, originally designed as an après-ski hut, on behalf of his school friend Dr. Jaakko Hiidenkari.

He was influenced by his experience in building with fiber-reinforced plastics for a silo roof (1964) and his search for a closed building shape as a retreat for a family or friends after skiing.

Getting together around a central dining table and relaxing on deck chairs led Suuronen, while sitting at the breakfast table himself, to the idea of ​​a round floor plan and a spherical hut as a result. The installation on uneven terrain required this modern den to be mounted on stilts. The fundamentally ellipsoidal building shell was due to the decision of favoring a mathematically determinable shape with optimal volume.

„The key factor is pi. It is pure mathematics. Since it is pure mathematics, it was easy to make the first wooden mold."
(Interview: Suuronen/Genzel, Voigt; 2002)

Condition before the restoration (excerpt):

  • Surface coating as interior plaster → was applied in 2013
  • Flanges, including screws, painted over in white  (interior paint – not varnish)

Specifications: sanding down exterior and interior surfaces/ removing plaster down to the original gelcoat, then re-coating everything with rolled-on varnisch → performing material tests

  • All flanges of the upper elements were sawn out directly above a horizontal joint -> to be able to attach interior fittings all around uniformly ! → debilitation of the surrounding fibers of the sandwich
  • Flanges in the area up to approx. 1 m above the horizontal joint are displaced, sometimes leaving a gap between them – possible to see through; GRP in the edge areas of the flange or the flanges has come loose / delaminated → bulges in the ellipsoid
  • In 4 lower elements, water has been gathering for days / weeks almost reaching the central ventilation openings, and was drained
  • Iron of the lower elements corroded on the surface -> to be inspected; iron coating flaking
  • Wooden panels as supporting flanges of the lower elements made of multiplex or chipboard, damaged by moisture → thorough dehydration or replacement with equivalent material

Specifications: Preservation of original material and strengthening with additional layers, such as the flanges, refrain from removing and treating metal components, leave in its entirety and clean and re-coat instead

Restoration of the Futuro Vlotho/Witten