The tiny house movement is on the rise today, but architects have been crafting tiny mobile homes long before the trend was given a name. In a throwback to the retro tiny houses of the 1960s and early ‘70s, the sculpture park Friche de l’Escalette curated Utopie Plastic, an exhibition of stunning sci-fi homes made of molded colorful plastics. Set against a stark post-industrial landscape south of Marseille, these prefabricated buildings set the groundwork for futuristic transportable homes – from the UFO-like Futuro House to the “Bubble House” Bulle homes.
Plastics revolutionized design, particularly in the 1960s and ‘70s when designers explored new possibilities offered by injection-molded plastics. Until the 1973 oil crisis pulled the brakes on the plastics boom, architects also took advantage of the malleability of plastics to craft modular housing with unusual shapes in bright, eye-catching colors. The season-long Utopie Plastic exhibition celebrates these organically shaped homes of a bygone era in an open-air gallery where visitors can sit and dine among the prefabricated structures.
Perhaps the exhibition’s biggest draw is the Futuro House, a UFO-shaped house designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, of which fewer than 100 were built during the ‘60s and ‘70s. The prefabricated home is elevated on steel legs and accessible via a folding staircase and hatch door. Two versions of Jean-Benjamin Maneval’s Bulle a Six Coques (“Bubble House”) are on display as well, one with its original interior fit-out and the other as an empty shell.
The low-lying orange boxy house is the Hexacube, designed by Georges Candilis as a mobile holiday home. Other futuristic and unusually shaped plastic furnishings, from Maurice Calka’s Boomerang Desk to Wendell Castle’s Baby Molar Chair, dot the landscape with bright pops of colors. The Utopie Plastic exhibition is on view by appointment from July 1 to October 1, 2017.
Images via Galerie 54