Things I was expecting to find in Canberra – Parliament, museums, inventive cakes. Things I was not expecting to find in Canberra – a fully intact Futuro House that you could sit in. But, there is one – and it has a really cool back story too. Here’s what you need to know about the house – and how to find it if you want to visit.
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What is a Futuro House?
I’ve covered this a bit on the blog before when we found an entire abandoned village of them in Taipei, but, it’s basically a house that looks like a spaceship.
They were designed as ski lodges in the 1960s, but, for various reasons they didn’t take off (no pun intended) as accommodations as such they are pretty rare – it’s believed there are only 96 left in the world.
We’ve visited the derelict ones in Taiwan, a restored one in a museum in Munich and know of one you can stay in as an Airbnb in Joshua Tree, California – so to see another one right here in Australia got us very excited.
Where is the Futuro House, Canberra?
The Canberra Futuro House is located within one of the campuses of the Canberra University – and it was about a 15-minute drive from our hotel in the Braddon district of the city.
The second morning of our trip saw us going to hunt for it. We jumped into the car and headed to the map co-ordinates I had.
This confused me a bit as bright yellow spaceship houses are normally pretty easy to spot.
We were standing looking a bit bemused when a lady with a lanyard appeared. ‘Can I help?’ she asked, ‘We’re looking for a house that looks like a spaceship’, replied Mr Differentville. ‘Oh, it’s in the courtyard,’ she told us. ‘Go up those stairs, into the building and you’ll find it.’
At this point, we’re a bit worried. Are mature adults allowed to wander around inside universities nowadays? Wouldn’t we need some kind of swipe card to get inside an actual building?
Still, we were here so, expecting to be stopped by security any second, we headed up the aforementioned stairs, into the building – and off to our right spotted the bright yellow Futuro glow. At this point, nothing was stopping us going further… like magic, the courtyard doors opened and we were steps away from Futuro fun.
The house is in really good condition outside and the stairs were open which led us to believe we could go in.
Inside, it’s full of seats and tables which made us think it might sometimes be used for lectures – either that or it’s somewhere students go to study.
There were a few cups and takeout wrappers around so we guess it’s also seen as a good place for breakfast!
A sign on the inside told us that ‘spaceship hours’ were from 9-4pm.
Admittedly, I still wasn’t sure if we were trespassing at this point – but I figured lanyard lady had said it was okay so 25 pictures later we raced back to the car before our parking time was up.
The one thing I didn’t know though was why it was there? There wasn’t any information about the house or what the university was using it for. At this point, therefore it was just on my list of cool things to see in Canberra – and I just planned it as a mention in the ‘fun and unusual Canberra’ round up post… but then, things got interesting.
Hang On, That Looks Familiar
Later that afternoon, I was visiting the Canberra Museum and Gallery in the city centre. They had a fascinating exhibition called Sign of the Times on which included pictures of past icons in Canberra – one of which was the old Space Dome planetarium that had burned down back in 2010.
I was looking at the pictures of the old building with its silver dome and…a silver UFO-shaped house next to it. Hmmm that, looked familiar.
I assumed, that it had been destroyed in the fire, but, when a second picture taken after the fire showed the dome burned to the ground, but the familiar silver shape still intact I started to wonder (every so often I turn into Carrie Bradshaw) – could it be the same house? After all, with less than 100 of the houses left in the world, it would be strange for there to be two Futuro houses in Canberra.
A quick google brought me to the webpage of the University of Canberra – not quite sure how I didn’t end up here before – and a whole article that revealed that yes, it WAS the same house.
And it seems that the house has a bit of a history in Canberra having been in the city in a couple of locations before it became part of the Planetarium building.
After the fire, the Futuro was kept on the old Space Dome site, but when that was to be redeveloped, its owners asked for someone to buy it – and the University of Canberra stepped in.
It’s been in the University’s possession since 2011 and while it used to be displayed out in the open, in 2013 it was taken away to be restored.
Which apparently, wasn’t the easiest job and required the whole thing being completely dismantled! The brilliant Futuro House site has some pictures of it during the restoration process.
Once it was fully restored it moved to its home in the courtyard in 2014. The move was to help protect it from the elements. But also, according to the University, the new location was great as it made it easier for the public to visit.
At this point not only did the house have an interesting story, I had the all clear to send people to go and see it – cue blog post.
How To Find the Canberra Futuro House
The official address is Building C5 at the University of Canberra Bruce Campus.
The easiest way to get there is to drive, but if you don’t, the 2,3 and 4 buses go to the University from the main bus interchange on Alinga Street. They take about 15 minutes to get there, then you’ll have about a ten minute walk at the other end to get to the house itself.
However, unless you want to look as lost as we did, you might want a few more details of exactly where the house is.
The easiest way to find it is to set your sat nav to a cafe on campus called The Well on Telita Street.
When you get here, park as close to the cafe as you can. There is only 15-minute parking in the area so you don’t want to have to walk miles to get to the house.
Now, with the cafe on your right and Telita Street behind you, walk down the pathway towards a silver egg-like sculpture and a covered walkway with columns – see them right at the back of the picture below.
When you reach this walkway, turn right and you’ll see a set of stairs up the side of a building.
Go up them and enter the building.
You’ll find yourself in a space full of orange decor – look to your right and you’ll see the outdoor courtyard containing the Futuro house.
If that sounds a bit vague – my directions often only make sense if you’re in the vicinity – look on google maps and look for Building 5 next to The Well. You’ll see the square shape of the courtyard and the set of stairs marked on the map.
Satellite view also shows a rather distinct bright yellow circle for you to aim for.
Remember, spaceship hours are 9-4pm so don’t try and visit outside of that point. From what I can tell, the structure is sometimes used for lectures so, be quiet when you arrive and, if there are people in it, you might have to wait a bit to get inside.
So, there you have it – the story of Canberra’s Futuro House. It was a great surprise find on our trip and now you know how how to find it too.
If you want to help others find it, then feel free to share it on social media.