Where I grew up, my uncle had a quaint little sea cottage in the nearby fishing town of Port Alfred, where I spent weekends and holidays with all my cousins. I grew up an only child so my cousins were like brothers and sisters to me and I spent as much time with them as I could. The cottage was tiny and only had one bedroom, so we slept two by two in old caravans in the garden. Each pair of us were given a potty and a candle in the evenings and off we went to bed. In the mornings we had cold showers in the open outside.
One of the family traditions was ‘afternoon drives’ on Sundays. All eight of us would pile into the minibus and my aunt would drive us slowly up and down our favourite streets, looking at the pretty gardens and reminiscing about the owners past and present of our favourite houses.
One of our favourite streets held ‘the spaceship house’. All of us children loved this house and we all wanted one to sleep in instead of our caravans, especially as it had a bath and toilet inside!
It was in very good condition when we were young but became very dilapidated in later years, even though we continued to drive past it on our Sunday drives, because it was so much a part of our lives and the fascination for this strange dwelling was handed down from us to the kids and grandkids.
None of us every saw another one and wondered where it had come from and who had built it because it was not very African.
Then suddenly it was gone! We were all distraught and pondered what could have happened to it.
When I got to Sweden though, I saw another one (not my photo)
And then I saw another one in Finland
I discovered that these houses were designed in the 1960s by by Finnish architect Matti Suoronnen and that only about 80 were ever made. Apparently they were designed as ski lodges so were very cosy. They were 50 sq m in area but, like caravans, made very good use of the limited space.
There are apparently about 57 left today, and they are very sought after by collectors. I found a huge amount of information on them on the internet and there are detailed records of almost all of them.
The cherry on the top was when I saw a Futuro house on Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design college in London. It was beautiful. A glorious colour, all shiny and in beautiful condition. The best condition I had ever seen a Futuro in. Once more, I was fascinated!
And then after searching for information on this new spaceship, I nearly fell over when I found out that it was THE ACTUAL SPACESHIP FROM PORT ALFRED! ‘Our’ spaceship! It had been dismantled and had travelled all the way from little old Port Alfred in South Africa to the UK to be restored as an art project.
Read about it here, which is also where many of the photographs above came from.
Thank you Craig for restoring our dream. Now I want one even more than I did when I was a kid!