Urban Exploration – Derek Jolly’s Melbourne Street Futuro House

The Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968, initially for use as a prefabricated ski-cabin. The cabin was designed to be light enough to easily transport to remote locations, easy to construct once on site in unforgiving landscapes and efficient when it came to heating and retaining heat in very cold locations.  The main construction material chosen for the Futuro House was a fiberglass reinforced plastic.  The Futuro House also featured polyurethane insulation and this, combined with a powerful electric heating system, allowed the house to be heated from -28° Celsius to 16° Celsius in only 30 minutes.

The Futuro House was manufactured in 16 prefabricated pieces. The house could either be transported by helicopter pre-assembled or it could be assembled on site with little more work than simply bolting the 16 pieces together. The assembled Futuro House would sit on a steel frame which in turn sat on four concrete piers. The only real onsite construction needed to site a Futuro House was laying the concrete piers. Given the simplicity of the onsite requirements the Futuro House could be situated in almost any terrain.  Meauring approximately 4 metres high and 8 metres in diameter, the Futuro is a futuristic design with Scandinavian sensibilities.  Fewer than 100 Futuro homes were made worldwide, and today, less than 60 survive.

Adelaide’s Futuro House originally stood in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide and was owned by entrepreneur and local identity Derek Jolly. The original Melbourne Street site was eventually purchased for redevelopment and, as a result, the Futuro was then relocated to Provost Street where it stood for many years behind Decca’s Restaurant.

Derek Jolly’s Futuro House in Provost Street North Adelaide (source: abc.net.au )

Derek Jolly was a remarkable businessman and car enthusiast who had many interests, including photography, music, science and technology, the arts and fine wine. Throughout the 1950s, Derek Jolly became one of Australia’s most prominent racing car drivers.  He built and raced several of his own cars – the Decca – eventually winning the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy in a Lotus 15.  This led to him becoming a regular member of the Lotus Racing Team, working on the development of their cars and touring the European racing circuits.

Derek Jolly in 1956 (source: Adelaide Now)

Derek Jolly was determined to establish Adelaide as a progressive city with a cutting edge arts culture.  Derek Jolly was largely responsible for the development of Melbourne St throughout the 1960s and 70s and what we see there today is a result of his legacy: shops, offices, apartments, boutiques and restaurants. During the early part of the 1960s, Derek Jolly built Decca’s Place in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide – a mixed use facility incorporating a restaurant, arts space and recording studio.   Gamba Studios was a state-of-the-art recording studio kitted out with the highest quality recording equipment available.  Derek Jolly encouraged an open-door policy, inviting musicians and performers to use the studios to experiment with their music.  To that end, he imported a Moog synthesiser – a ground-breaking piece of music technology for that era. It was the first time such equipment was available outside the US and was made available freely for use by local musicians and students of the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music.

The Futuro in North Adelaide 1971 (source: adelaidenow.com)

Derek Jolly died in 2002, aged 74. His death was the result of serious injuries sustained in a horrific car crash 12 months earlier when an out-of-control car slammed into his stationary vehicle at 90km/h.

Derek Jolly’s Futuro was acquired by South Australian property developer Joe Emanuele and relocated to his remote coastal property during the 1980s where it remains today.  It is currently undergoing refurbishment and restoration as part of the development of a nature retreat on the property.  It is not an abandoned structure and is on closely guarded private property.

6 thoughts on “Urban Exploration – Derek Jolly’s Melbourne Street Futuro House

  1. Yes I’ve seen it from afar when walking and always wondered what the inside was like, good to know it’s not just rusting junk and something of a historical significance. More of these should be made as floating hotel rooms in the upper gulf or Pt Lincoln viewing platforms.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thanks for these pictures and words.

    Derek Jolly was a legend who spent a lot of money on arts and music … a lot of money …

    I met Derek in the 1980s when he was running out of that inheritance and awaiting the next one,

    In between inheritances, he was a pioneer of couch surfing, including at my place.

    I have learned that he was also a recording star, doing the vacuum cleaner solo on Johnny Farnham’s Sadie the Cleaning Lady.

    Always entertaining.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great piece!
    I was looking at the Futurohouse.com site and found links to this article. I remember seeing Derek Jolly’s home sitting near Melbourne street when I was a school boy. It fascinated me and I always wondered what happened to it.

    Three cheers to Mr Emanuele for restoring this iconic building. I hope his nature resort concept is successful.



  4. I went in the house when I was a teenager down the Cape where it is now. My dad did earthmoving work for it. Got some awesome pics if it inside and out.


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