House of
the Future

Architecture
1929
House of the Future
The House of the Future, designed as an exhibition house by Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen in 1929, was instrumental in bringing European modernism to Scandinavia and in developing the functionalist movement in Denmark during the interwar years.
YEAR:
1929
DESIGN:
Arne Jacobsen

In 1929 the just 27-year-old Arne Jacobsen had his major breakthrough in Denmark with the House of the Future, which he co-designed and co-constructed with architect Flemming Lassen (1902–1984). With its spiral-shaped ground plan, white plastered exterior walls and spectacular technical solutions, the house appeared as a radical innovation when it was presented at the Forum exhibition venue in 1929.

Built as an exhibition house, the House of the Future only existed for a limited period, but the project had a huge impact on Arne Jacobsen’s career and on Danish architecture in general. With inspiration from the Bauhaus school in Germany and the work of French architect Le Corbusier, among others, Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen’s house was instrumental in bringing the interwar modernist development to Denmark.

Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen's vision of the House of the Future included a spiral-shaped floor plan, spectacular technical solutions, two garages for a speedboat and a car and a helipad on the roof. Photo: Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.
Photo of the House of the Future exhibited at the Forum exhibition in Copenhagen in 1929. Photo: Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.

With its flat roof, simple cubist shapes and white plastered exterior, the House of the Future stood out as radically different from the other projects on show.

Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen were part of the avant-garde of the particular version of modernist functionalist architecture that developed in Denmark during the interwar years, and in this development, the House of the Future played a central role. The architects designed the single-family house for a competition held by the Danish Association of Architects for a House of the Future that, according to the competition brief, was to ignore the obstacles ‘posed by the inadequacies of our current technical and legislative conditions’. In the subsequent Housing and Building Exhibition at Forum in Copenhagen, where the proposals were constructed, Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassens became the talk of the show. 

With its flat roof, simple cubist shapes and white plastered exterior, the House of the Future stood out as radically different from the other projects on show. With inspiration from international modernism, the architects designed the house as an open, spiral-shaped ‘machine for living’ that boasted three garages – for a speedboat, a car and a helicopter – and a wide range of ingenious technical solutions. The doormat had a built-in hoover that removed any dust from visitors’ shoes, the automated tables swivelled to convey food and drinks to the seated diners, and a post tube conveyor system transported mail directly to the local post office. In the spacious living room, a large screen played classical music.

The house was decorated with furniture pieces in glass and steel designed by Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen. Photo: Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.

The walls of the house were painted in clear primary colours, and the rooms were furnished with modernist furniture in steel, glass and wickerwork. The house was both architects’ first total design project – an approach that later came to characterize Arne Jacobsen’s work. For the interior of the house Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen designed several pieces of furniture in glass and steel that were displayed in the house during the exhibition period along with Mies van der Rohe’s MR27 chair and Arne Jacobsen’s new wickerwork Paris chair.

Although the house was dismantled after a short time, the innovative design secured Arne Jacobsen many new commissions, and that same year, the young architect founded the firm that he continued until his death in 1971. ‘From then on, every schoolteacher wanted an Arne Jacobsen house,’ as architect Erik Møller, Arne Jacobsen’s collaborator during the interwar years, later recalled about the impact the House of the Future had on Arne Jacobsen’s career.

 

Sources: Arne Jacobsen Design Archives. / Arne Jacobsen’s drawings. The collection of architectural drawings, The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Arne Jacobsen’s scrapbooks. The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Stenum Poulsen, K., Skaarup Larsen, A., & Staunsager, S. (2020). Arne Jacobsen – Designing Denmark. Kolding: Trapholt.  / Thau, C., & Vindum, K. (1998). Arne Jacobsen. Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

Arne Jacobsen also designed a bar area for the Danish liquor brand C.L.O.C. Photo: Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.
Water color of the House of the Future by Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen. Photo: Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.
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