Alison & Peter Smithson view list

The House of the Future #Alison & Peter Smithson


In 1956 the prototype for an ideal house for a foreseeable future, then dated in 1981, was displayed at an exhibition organised by the British newspaper The Daily Mail. Its architects were wife and husband Alison Margaret Gill & Peter Denham Smithson, the enfants terribles of the British architecture, known by their neobrutalist school in Hunstanton and their active commitment with the Team 10 and the Independent Group.

Although the House of the Future is totally closed except for a central courtyard looking up at the sky, its whole interior was intended to be a wrapping surface, a plastic-made second skin that was moulded by the actions of its inhabitants. This skin was warped in such a way that “every compartment has got a different size, both in area and height, as well as a completely different shape according to its function”. It also shrank to form smaller compartments, such as the shower, the bath tub or the wardrobes, or to embed all kinds of electronic devices that atempted to foresee the future’s technology.

For the invention of a new spatial container needs the separate invention of the objects and decoration of the play of life within it. Peter Smithson, Three Generations, 1980

As befits a prototype aiming a still non-existent future, each and every element of the House of the Future was specially designed. The structure-skin, the built-in furniture embedded on this skin, several chairs that were the only free-standing furniture, the lighting, and even the clothes for the actors that staged the ludic and relaxed life of the future for the visitors of the exhibition.