Matti Suuronen was ahead of his time when, in 1968, he designed a UFO-shaped composite house as a versatile ski-cabin, that could be heated comfortably in 30 minutes and could resist virtually any environment. The 4 metre-high 8 metre-wide, flying saucer, intended for mass production, was made from polyester-glassfibre with polyurethane insulation, and was christened ‘Futuro’. Unfortunately, the response from the public and authorities to the design was not always positive – some were vandalized or destroyed, and planning permission was often refused, as the houses did not fit in with their surroundings. Production ended after only a few years, due to the poor demand, and to the 1970s oil crisis causing a dramatic rise in the cost of plastics. It is believed that just over 60 Futuro pods remain in existence, with only 2 of them open to public - the first factory-produced house (No. 001) is in Espoo, Finland, and the original prototype is in a Rotterdam museum.
Protecting a 50-year-old historic polyester glass-fibre structure from the Finnish weather is not as simple as you might think. A previous attempt to restore Futuro failed, when it was relocated to Espoo 10 years’ ago, due to the polyurethane coating being unable to fully protect the surface from the heat and UV degradation due to direct sunlight. ‘At that time there were no other alternatives for coating such a laminate, and the surface has softened and flaked in direct sunlight over the years’, says Erkki Lappi from Ekin Muovi Oy, who was in charge of treating the exterior of the house.
Finnester Coatings Oy, the experts in coatings for composites, were called in by the current owners to recommend the best available technology for restoration and long-term protection. After sanding to remove the old varnish, a yellow pureGLAZE polyester basecoat (matching the original colour) was applied directly to the polyester glass-fibre composite, followed by the hybridGLAZE clear topcoat, the latter providing the necessary outdoor weathering and UV-light protection. ‘This organic-inorganic hybrid technology we have developed is revolutionary in many ways. It has great properties, such as weather and UV resistance, and dirt-repellency, as well as being resistant to scratches and damage,’ says Ari Hokkanen, CEO of Finnester Coatings Oy.
The fully restored bright yellow Futuro house is currently open to the public at the Weegee Exhibition Centre, Ahertajantie 5, 02100 Espoo, Finland.
Finnester Coatings Oy supplies specialist coatings to solve problems in various industry sectors including construction and transportation, with innovative state-of-the-art technologies, based on years of experience working with composites and coatings. The main use for our hybrid and pure technologies is in providing extremely effective fire protection for composite materials.