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The retro-modern space-age house: The Home of the Future at Disneyland & other lifestyle predictions (’50s & ’60s)

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The retro-modern space-age Monsanto Home of the Future at Disneyland (1)
Long before the Monsanto company was mired in controversy over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, the company was known to many as the backers of this futuristic exhibit.

Set in the far-distant year 1986 — this home of the future (more popularly called the house of the future) was a featured attraction at the Disneyland theme park in Southern California from 1957 to 1967.

The retro-modern space-age Monsanto's Home of the Future at Disneyland (1)

Monsanto’s Home of the Future: Plastic house of future built as cross around utility core (1959)

What with flying saucers and soon trips to the moon, it isn’t hard to believe that microwave cooking and ultrasonic dishwashing in a wing-designed house shaped like a cross will also be part of today.

Monsanto’s home of the future in a full-scale structure erected in Disneyland is the homeowner’s dream. And the chemical company believes that it may well be the forerunner of the home which will be standard ten years from now.

Disneyland's plastic Monsanto's Home of the Futuree at night

Instead of metal, wood, and masonry as prime building materials, it shows the limitless potential of plastics in structural applications. The basic construction material is plastic reinforced with fibrous glass.

While there is no present plan for commercial production of the house, the bold ideas and new concepts it expresses are expected to have a strong impact on forward thinking and progressive architects and builders, says the company.

The house consists of a 16-foot square utility core and 8×16-foot U-shaped molded modules. The utility consists of baths, kitchen. laundry and heating facilities. It requires a minimum of excavation and its elevation is easily adapted to site conditions.

1959 floor plan for Monsanto's Home of the Future at Disneyland
Vintage floor plan for Monsanto’s Home of the Future at Disneyland (from 1959) – Living room, parent’s bedroom, boy’s bedroom, girl’s bedroom, family room, kitchen

The modules, with wiring conduits and heating ducts molded in, form walls, roof, and floor of the rooms. In the simplest plan seen in the Disneyland model eight modules measuring 8×16 are cantilevered in pairs from the central core to form four 16-foot square wings.

Because of the wing design, full day sunlight is available to every part of the house. Inter-room noise is also held at a minimum affording privacy and quiet for varied family activities.

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And for future family expansion, it offers a simple solution: Rooms can be easily and economically added. Various combinations of the design components, including the use of twin cores, make it possible to achieve a variety of floor plans.

But how about the furnishings? Building supply and home equipment industries took a peek, too, into the future and came up with such things as telephones with preset and push-button dialing, “hands-free” speakers and transmitters, and viewing screen to see the person who is calling.

They have come up with modular bathrooms with lavatory, tub, walls and floor molded units. Formed-in-place rigid urethane plastic foam for insulation and structural strength along with flexible urethane foam for cushioning furniture and rugs also are in their home of the future. And for additional clock-around-comfort, they have a climate control center which filters, cools, heats, and scents the air in each room independently.

Monsanto's Home of the Future - vintage Disneyland postcard

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Disneyland: 15,000,000 visitors later, this home still has a future

Monsanto’s Home of the Future at Disneyland has withstood 15 million visitors, high winds and hot sun … all without signs of distress.

The home is built almost entirely of plastics, either alone or in combination with traditional building materials. Even most furnishings are “chemically tailored”… including fabrics and carpets made with Acrilane fiber.

And that all-plastic home is still in superb shape after 15 million visitors … and seven years later. How’s that for durability?

Another example of how Monsanto moves ahead to serve you.

The retro-modern space-age Monsanto's Home of the Future at Disneyland


More views of the retro-modern space-age Monsanto’s Home of the Future at Disneyland

Disneyland Monsanto's Home of the Future - vintage brochure from 1958


Home utopia just around the corner (1961)

by Vivian Brown, in the Kokomo Tribune (Indiana) August 6, 1961

That wonderful home of the future we’ve been hearing about is just around the corner. A few lucky ones are enjoying some of the marvels now.

After a conversation with William Street, chairman of the Seattle World’s Fair, Century 21, one finds that utopian living is beyond the talking stage.

Street advises that “one of the big wonders of Century 21 will be an electronics home of the future, never before shown.”

Some of the ideas have been put to use, and others have passed the drawing boards, says Street, who is busy rounding up more possibilities for the fair which opens in April.

The house of the future can be taken apart, and if you’re lucky enough to own one of these mobile units the wings of which can be moved, discarded or replaced at whim, you can-enjoy a vacation in a wing of your very own house. Just move the bedrooms to the shore when you get tired of the mountains, or vice versa.

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Heating, plumbing and wiring will be a one-unit core delivered to your site complete. The home will be equipped with its own power plant, and be dust and bug-free.

We mustn’t let the joys of anticipation be ruined by the thought that this home of the future will probably need a built-in serviceman. Push-buttons have a way of getting out of whack. And if we think we have troubles now with modern appliances and other gizmos …well!

Here are some more joys for that home paradise:

  • The use of light materials — foamed plastics, foamed cement and glass, and combinations of plastics, paper and light metals. Materials impregnated with color.
  • Air curtain walls that offer complete protection from weather, but give us open living space.
  • Heating devices woven into rugs, and installed in walls and furniture.
  • Showers for lazy types that will envelop them in a spray of water and soap; rinse and dispense a solvent to evaporate the moisture making it unnecessary to dry with a towel.
  • A pillow phonograph that will put you to sleep and wake you up.
  • Windows that close automatically when it rains.
  • Thermoelectric panels that will heat, cool and light a room.
  • Doors that will open when you approach and a method of hanging coats without touching them.
  • Wall-size television screens and closed-circuit TV for more togetherness.

We’ll be playing bridge with people on TV, and our electric and gas meters will be read by telephone, and we won’t see the garbage man either, as we shrink the waste into pellets to be used as fertilizer.

We may not be around when the home computer really becomes a status symbol, but we can’t help but note that it will help round up the children, plan the menus, and remind mom of dentist appointments.

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