Pensacola Beach situated on the Gulf of Mexico coast in Florida features some of the State’s more wacky attractions, such as outrageous advertising billboards and the Ice House, but one of its most oft-visited curiosities is the privately-owned ‘UFO’ house, located at 1304 Panferio Drive, Pensacola Beach.
Perched atop a one-story building, the saucer-shaped home looks like it has just landed on some unsuspecting earthman’s roof. Complete with a futuristic ramp leading to the saucer’s drop-down door and model aliens staring out of the port-hole windows, the house has become one of the hottest unofficial Pensacola Beach tourist attractions. Made entirely from fibreglass-reinforced polyester plastic, the white UFO house has proved very resilient, still standing 35 years after construction and following a battering from several hurricanes.
Although known as the ‘UFO house’, it is actually one of only 20 Futuro houses ever built and designed by Finnish pop architect Matti Suuronen in 1968. Originally intended as a futuristic ski cabin for a friend of the Finn, the Futuro house proved so versatile that the other 19 were commissioned for a variety of purposes, such as: observer stations for the Swedish Air Force, a youth club in Stuttgart, an office for a Yorkshire plastics factory in England and homes throughout the United States. There is even a Futuro house right next to a highway in Estonia being passed off as Santa Claus’s Flying Saucer!
Sales literature in the late 1960s described the Futuro as “representing the modern, comfortable way of housing incorporating practical coziness,” and confidently predicted that: “the Futuro is the dwelling of the future.” However, despite their optimism, sales of the Futuro – please excuse the pun – never ‘took off,’ so following the initial run of 20, production ceased entirely. The house was criticised for lacking storage space, and considered too pricy and too small for normal families. The fact that it was built out of plastic certainly didn’t help sales either as potential buyers in the 1960s thought it wouldn’t stand the test of time. But, as can be seen from the magnificent example at Pensacola Beach, they were wrong!
As a curiosity, the UFO house at Pensacola is well worth a visit if you are in that part of Florida. And if you plan to stay overnight during your visit remember that hotels in Pensacola can be expensive at the height of the season, so try to go when it’s less busy. After all, the UFO house will still be there – it’s not flying anywhere!
Adam Singleton is an online, freelance journalist and keen amateur photographer from Scotland. His interests include travelling and hiking.