Conservation in Australia, Past Present and Future: Preprints from the AICCM National Conference, 19 – 21 October 2011 Canberra
Last March a flying saucer landed on the campus at the University of Canberra. It was not aliens but a Futuro house. The Futuro was donated to the University by the Dickson Tradies Club where it had been part of an observatory until it was damaged in a fire last year. The Futuro house is a UFO shaped house made of glass reinforced plastic and polyurethane foam. It was designed in the 1960’s by Finnish architect Matti Suuronnen as a relocatable ski lodge and had a projected lifespan of 30 years. Only 96 were built, few remain and most are sad and neglected. There has been a two-year project to conserve the prototype Futuro, which is now housed in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. There’s the rub; a plastic building in the harsh Canberra climate nearly 23 years past its prime and slightly singed – a wonderful conservation challenge. The paper considers the problems and challenges of preserving the building and adapting it for suitable use within a university and how the project can be used to teach students the challenges of conserving modern materials and contemporary art.