This House of the Future was founded in 1957 as an attraction site in Disneyland (Anaheim, California), built by the Monsanto Company, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Walt Disney Imagineering. It was closed in 1967. Within its ten year period, approximately 20 million people have visited this attraction.
The Monsanto Company, heavily involved with chemicals, desired to expand its presence in the home construction industry. For this attraction, their goal was to design a home that explored the optimized utilization of plastics as a building material. They pushed plastics as a new and creative candidate for building materials. Today, the company is best known for producing genetically modified seeds and other agricultural solutions.
This walkthrough attraction featured a home set in the year 1986 (three decades into the future), highlighting futuristic materials, styles, and household appliances. The future was depicted as an absence of traditional furniture styles and natural elements, and an embracement of ultra-modern synthetics—mainly, plastic. However, one key aspect still seen as contemporary (at least, to our current standards) was the color scheme of the furniture and décor—it was all very 1950s.
The house, with four wings extending from a center, “floated” on a pedestal above a modern landscape. It was approximately 1300 square feet, with each wing measured at 8’ H x 16’ W x 16’ L. It included a family and living room, kitchen, dining room, master bedroom, master bathroom, two children’s bedrooms (one for each gender), and a shared kids’ bathroom.
The builders designed a home using wings, or cubes—straying away from the usual square exterior—to maximize access to daylight for each room and add privacy for various activities. This design could also be implemented into any location—whether a rocky mountain or steep hill, the pedestal would turn any bad location into a workable one. The structure on top of the pedestal could even be rotated to change the views.
Governing Philosophy & Rules
This utopia indicated no information about the future state of government, laws and politics, and human rights/rules. There is no federal, state, or local government designation.
Science & Technology
The Monsanto Company and its collaborators studied how plastics were being used in construction in the 1950s, and they experimented how its particular properties could be practically applied in the future. The exterior consisted of 16 “molded polyester-urethane” layers, while the interior consisted of “reinforced epoxy support columns, laminated wood beams, and laminated safety glass” (Yesterland.com). All of the structural properties were made to last in outstanding condition. In fact, the demolition crew’s wrecking balls bounced off the structure after the site was closed down. Ultimately, they had to resort to choker chains to break up the plastics into manageable, smaller pieces. This house demonstrated an increased acceptance of plastic as an exploitable material for the construction industry.
One of the major revolutionary indicators was the kitchen. Inside this home, household appliances either hung from ceiling cabinets or popped up out of the counter. A smaller microwave oven (they were inconveniently large at the time) was a prophetic indicator of the evolving appliance. Today’s modern fridge drawers mimic the home’s “cold zone” units that fit inside several cabinets.
There were other “revolutionary” features inside the house that accurately reflect our society today. Some items include the electric toothbrush, built-in stereo system, wall-mounted televisions, and security screens to see who is at the front door. Dimmable ceiling lights found inside the house back then are also a common element found in homes and other buildings today. The push-button speakerphone with preset dialing, installed by Bell Telephone, is echoed today via speed dial buttons on mobile machines.
Plastic does seems to be a bigger part of our lives today—hello, Ikea furniture—but it is not everything. While we do incorporate plasticware and plastic furniture, today’s society does not find plastic particularly elegant or classy. In today’s time, people look to other elements (steels, woods, bricks, ceramics) as higher quality materials.
This attraction was closed down in 1967 to make way for another attraction, Adventure Thru Inner Space, which was also sponsored by the Monsanto Company.
2008, Innoventions Dream Home
Disney announced that it would bring back the attraction in a renovated form, renamed as the Innoventions Dream Home, with a more modern and accessible interior. In collaboration with Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Lifeware, it was a house focused more on modern technology rather than foundational material.
Although the attraction is now closed, the reinforced concrete foundation still exists in its original location. It is currently being used as a planter in a garden space within the park—hiding in plain sight!
– Three years after it’s opening, the house underwent a major update because many of the things that seemed “futuristic” in 1957, became contemporary in 1960. It underwent another major update before it was closed.
– In 1956, 15% of plastics made in the U.S. was allocated to construction, compared to 23% today