4 Fantastic Midcentury Visions of the Home of the Future

4 Fantastic Midcentury Visions of the Home of the Future

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Nancy Mitchell
Aug 11, 2015
(Image credit: Utopianist)

Every once in a while, when I'm playing with some strange gadget that ten years ago I never would've imagined could've existed, or pondering the creepy possibilities presented by drones or face recognition software, it occurs to me that I am living in THE FUTURE. But iPhones and Apple watches aside, the future really looks quite tame — especially compared with the delightfully space age-y versions of it envisioned in the 50s and 60s. Let's take a look back at some of the more outlandish visions of 'The Home of the Future' — and think about the ways in which we've fallen short.

In the illustration above, from a 1960s Motorola ad spotted on Utopianist, the home of the future (or maybe it's the apartment complex of the future?) has a distinctly Jetsons vibe. If you think about it, this is really not all that different from the design of some ulra-luxury high rises, with their vast walls of glass — although most of us still prefer the comfort provided by actual walls.

(Image credit: Utopianist)

In this rendering, also from a vintage Motorola ad, the home of the future looks a bit like Philip Hohnson’s glass house and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater had a baby. That somehow looked a little like a Calatrava bridge.

(Image credit: Disney Avenue)

This particular vision of the Home of the Future was commissioned by Monsanto, who concluded that the future would be made almost entirely of plastic. The house was designed by two architects from the MIT faculty and was on display at Disneyland's Tomorrowland between 1957 and 1967.

Flickr user James Vaughan under CC BY-SA 2.0
(Image credit: James Vaughan under CC BY-SA 2.0)
Flickr user James Vaughan under CC BY-SA 2.0
(Image credit: James Vaughan under CC BY-SA 2.0)

The house was comprised of a central core, containing the kitchen and bathroom, which was anchored to the ground with a 16 foot square concrete base. The rest of the wings, which were made of giant fiberglass shells, cantilevered out from the center. Inside the house, visitors could witness modern innovations like the microwave (which eventually caught on) and a dishwasher that used ultrasonic waves (which didn't).

Although plastic housing didn't turn out to be the wave of the future that Monsanto hoped for, the future house was exceptionally sturdy. The home's eventual demolition, scheduled for only one day, actually took two weeks, as the fiberglass shells proved almost impossible to destroy. You can read more about the house, and see more photos, at Daveland.

Mechanix Illustrated June 1957, via Roger Wilkerson
(Image credit: Roger Wilkerson)

This might be my very favorite Future Home. It is encased in a bubble for reasons that will never be known to me, because I cannot get my hands on a copy of Mechanix Illustrated from June 1957. Perhaps the pool is heated? Perhaps the folks at Mechanix anticipated that by the time The Future rolled around we would be suffering from dangerous levels of air pollution and not want to go outside? Whatever the case may be, this house wins my vote for its dramatic staircase and indoor/outdoor (well, within the bubble) sensibility. The future is now — now, if only it looked this good.

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