Science Trips – Visit to the house of the future… view from 1957

In 1957, an unlikely collaboration between Disney, Monsanto and MIT gave rise to a vision of the future with an incredible house.

The 1950s was a time of optimism and hope in the United States. With the end of World War II came great prosperity and constant technological advances. During this decade, housing areas were built to accommodate people looking for a place to live with the most modern amenities. The future looked bright: flying cars and robot maids in every home.

From that time, a fascinating relic has come down to us: the house of the future. The visionaries of this project were Walt Disney, Monsanto Chemical Company and MIT. Although the Monsanto company is best known today for its patents on seeds and pesticides, at the time its focus was on plastic, which was considered the material of the future.

future house

The House of the Future was featured as an attraction at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland in Anaheim, California, USA, between 1957 and 1967. The building, with four symmetrical wings cantilevered over a central core, was made of glass-reinforced plastic. At the time, the attraction offered a tour of this house of the future, with appliances such as microwave ovens, which over time became commonplace. The house received more than 435,000 visitors in the first six weeks of opening and, in total, was seen by more than 20 million people before closing.

future house

Unsurprisingly, Walt Disney brought an artistic touch to the home’s design with his penchant for creativity and storytelling. For its part, Monsanto contributed its most advanced materials, such as synthetic fabrics, wall cladding and insulation, to create an aesthetically pleasing and technically advanced interior. Finally, MIT provided valuable insight into how best to integrate emerging technologies into home building.

home technologies

The House of the Future featured many cutting-edge technologies that are commonplace today, from voice-controlled appliances to automated climate control systems. A particularly impressive feature was a kitchen counter that used infrared sensors to detect whether food was spoiled or spoiled: if the food had been left out too long, a light would flash as a warning sign. Other technological innovations were televisions with built-in cameras for video calls, automatic doors controlled by motion sensors, furniture made of plastic foam instead of wood or metal, and retractable walls that could be opened during parties or special events.

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future house

The house closed in 1967. The building was so strong that when demolition crews failed to bring it down using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jackhammers, they ended up using choke chains to break it up and remove the pieces. Proof of just how strong the plastic structure was is the strength of the 12 millimeter diameter steel bolts used to secure it to the foundation broke before the structure itself. The reinforced concrete base was never removed and remains in its original location, where today it can be seen painted green.

future house

The House of the Future had a significant impact on the subsequent design of Disney and Epcot’s futuristic amusement park in Orlando, Florida. The project for the house of the future was tried to be recovered in 2008 with the collaboration of Microsoft, and the result was the Dream House, also at Disneyland in California. A home with touch screens on the kitchen table and entertainment systems in the bedrooms. However, it was much less successful, among other things, because these technologies were already part of the present, not an imagined future.

The 1957 House of the Future demonstrated a remarkable vision of where technology would go in the coming decades. While many of these ideas never came to fruition – or took much longer than anticipated – Casa do Futuro served as an inspiring reminder of how far we can go when great minds come together for a common goal. It really is amazing what could have been achieved over 60 years ago.

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