There are only four types of homes in science fiction

And a great article in the Financial Times breaks them down for you. There's the "futuristic" home where everything is white and automatic, there's the "retro" home, that looks Victorian or art deco, there's the "dystopian" ruins. And finally, there's the "modernist" home, which is someone's actual house that they filmed in.

The FT article goes on to explain:

The first type is, unexpectedly perhaps, most often the dullest. This is because it is generally the most predictable. Nothing, the cliché states, dates faster than the future. Take Alison and Peter Smithson, arguably Britain's most intellectual and influential modernist architects, who designed a "House of the Future" for the Ideal Home Show in 1956. It looks laughable enough on its own, but with the "futuristically" dressed actors inhabiting it, the projection becomes a hoot. It shows just how difficult it is to get it right.

The classic image of this kind of screen futurology comes from the 1936 film,Things to Come, based on the HG Wells novel. This is a pretty weak film, except for its uncomfortably salient predictions about the nature of the coming world war and its impressive visions of a subterranean world carved out beneath the ruins of the now uninhabitable cities on the surface.

Vincent Korda, the film's production designer, first approached Fernand Léger to design the sets but was unhappy with the result. His next choice, Le Corbusier, declined to be involved. So Korda (the brother of director Alexander) turned to his fellow Hungarian émigré, László Moholy-Nagy, who was then living in London. The sets feature extraordinary curved atria criss-crossed by sky bridges, with elevators in glass tubes rising through them. It was a remarkable vision, at once abstract but also owing something to Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Moholy-Nagy's former colleague at the Bauhaus. (The sets also prefigured the spiralling interior of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim museum in New York.) In this vision of the future, the house has disappeared, the living is communal. This world more closely resembles one of John Portman's vast Atlanta hotels than a conventional house of the future. It is a common future fantasy, part communitarian dream, part nightmare, in which privacy and ownership have been lost.

It is also a fantasy that, in our own hyper-connected world, seems to be a decent metaphor for contemporary life.


The whole thing is well worth reading. [Financial Times, via Architecture Lab]

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