12 June 2007

Forward to the Past

Oh, what heady days they must have been.

The decade after the end of World War Two saw a prosperity boom the likes of which this country had never seen before or since. We had defeated the foe, and it appeared that all things were possible.

Support for this amazing victory came from plastics -- materials which, coincidentally, had just come into being a scant few years before they were needed to replace much more important and scarce metals. Aluminum, steel, iron, copper were all needed to win the war; and, where plastic could be used instead, it was.

In just a few years, plastics production increased many times over, with plastics being used to make parts of airplanes, tanks, and vehicles of all kinds.

Once the war ended, their use was turned toward consumer goods -- radios, televisions, dinnerware, light switches, combs, tumblers, dashboards, windshields -- hundreds and hundreds of items that were made more quickly, less costly, and that would endure forever.

Why not, then, build a house from plastic?

That is exactly what happened fifty years ago today -- 12 June 1957.

On that date, the Monsanto House of the Future (illustrated) opened in the then-new entertainment park called Disneyland.

It was, certainly, a marvel. Although touted as being made entirely from plastic, there were other materials used -- but mostly plastic. Companies of all kinds participated in this grand experiment -- American Motors (kitchen), Bell Telephone, Chemstrand (fabrics), Crane (bathrooms), Libbey Owens (glass). Mobay Chemical (insulation), Sylvania (lighting). Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be part of this wonderful moment in time when a new tomorrow was being envisioned for a country in which anything was possible.

Of course, that "tomorrow" never came to be.

Although much on display in the House of the Future did, indeed, come about, the world never saw mass production of this great housing design which would lower costs of living and allow pretty much every person to have a well-constructed home made inexpensively and quickly.

In fact, it has only been in the past few years that architects and designers have once again begun to explore the world of mass-produced modular homes -- although not keeping the commitment to "all plastic."

Is there an all plastic House of the Future again on the horizon? I certainly hope so.

You can learn more about the House of the Future at my website, PlasticLiving.com. Just visit my website, and click on the link for the House of the Future.

1 comment:

gerson said...

hey chris! your blog is great. This house is too cool, it is a shame it was dismantled. They never thought of how interesting it would be when the future (today) finally arrived.
take a lok at this... not sure what is it made of, though.