Nick McQuoid’s UFO-like Futuro house in Canterbury. Photo by Nancy Zhou.

Home profile: a quirky UFO house


Nick McQuoid’s obsession with the Futuro House began when he was five years old.

“I used to beg my dad to drive past the ‘spaceship’ in New Brighton,” he remembers. It was an obsession that stuck. Nick purchased his first Futuro in 2012 and he is now part of a group of global fanatics of the rare 1970s icon. His latest Futuro, which he restored himself, is now an award-winning Airbnb at Okoha, in Canterbury, and is listed as a Category 1 Historic Place.

The Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968. It was a visionary concept that leveraged new materials like fibreglass-reinforced polyester plastic, which was an affordable resource at the time. Suuronen envisioned the Futuro as the future of housing; quick to construct, easy to heat and transportable. Despite its innovative design – and Suuronen’s vision that millions would be produced around the world – fewer than 100 Futuros were actually made. Only about 68 are still known to exist today.

UFO house portrait INP

Nick McQuoid inside his Futuro house Airbnb. Photo by Nancy Zhou.

In New Zealand, 12 Futuros were manufactured in Christchurch, with two showcased at the 1974 Commonwealth Games as BNZ branches.

The economic context of the 1960s and 70s played a crucial role in the rise and fall of the Futuro dream. With petroleum and oil being cheap initially, the Futuro offered a vision of affordable housing but the oil crisis of the mid-1970s saw gas prices skyrocket. Suuronen’s dream of affordable plastic houses for everyone was snuffed out almost overnight.

Nick has owned three of the 12 New Zealand-built Futuros. One he sold to a museum in Australia, another is awaiting restoration and the third is available for anyone to experience on his five-acre Okoha property, which also features a games room, a retro caravan, a sleepout, a pool, a spa and a sauna.

UFO house garden INP

You can book the Futuro house, in Ohoka Canterbury, as accommodation. Photo by Nancy Zhou.

Nick moved this Futuro in 2018 from the West Coast, where it had served as a whitebait stand on the Paringa River for three decades. Isolated and without road access, it was a well-kept secret. “I heard there was a Futuro on the coast, but it was kind of just a rumour,” Nick says.

A Facebook message led him to the family that owned it. They were interested in selling, so Nick jumped at the chance. He dismantled the structure so that it could be heli-lifted from the site and transported to Christchurch.

After builders told him his ideas for restoring the Futuro couldn’t be done, he and a friend decided to tackle the project themselves.

“It was literally like trying to rebuild a superyacht – they are made from the same materials – but trying to do it affordably,” Nick says.

After a year of challenging restoration work on a shoestring budget, the Futuro now shines as a testament to innovation, powered by solar energy and even equipped with a Tesla for guest transport to and from the airport.

Nick stuck as close as he could to the architect’s original vision, complete with purple walls, red carpet and 1970s decor, including an original Luigi Colani chair. The interior feels surprisingly spacious, with high ceilings and built-in furniture. There are two bedrooms and a compact toilet with a shower. The large bed in the main room slides away to create more space.

UFO house kitchen INP

The Futuro UFO house is surprisingly spacious inside. Photo by Nancy Zhou.

“People absolutely adore it. And when the lighting’s on at night, it feels like Disneyland or something,” he says.

Nick says guests of his generation remember the Futuro from its prominent location in Christchurch’s New Brighton. “They come here and it’s like a blast from the past,” Nick says.

It’s a tight club of people who are into Futuros and they include art collectors and museums and billionaires. “It’s incredible the people that I’ve met around the world from doing this.”

From a fascinated five-year-old to someone who earns his full-time living from hosting people from around the world to share in his niche passion, Nick’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned.

“It’s a literal spaceship house. Who wouldn’t love that? I’m still obsessed with it,” he admits.


Story by Kris Herbert for the Winter 2024 issue of AA Directions Magazine. Kris Herbert is a Christchurch-based freelance writer. 

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