It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible


The future we used to have, part 12

We lost a bit of the future we used to have only a couple of days ago, when Neil Armstrong died following heart surgery. The US space programme of the 1950s and 1960s has always fascinated me because of its optimism for the future. It gave us “Space Age” as a term of approval, and I for one mourn the Space Age we nearly had within our grasp. Here are some photographs to remind us of lost times…


British Aerospace HOTOL

NASA space ferry concept

Nuclear-powered ferry to the Moon (from Look and Learn)

Von Braun design for a lunar lander

Cabin detail from von Braun lunar lander

NASA Moon colony, with LRV in foreground


Ford FX Atmos concept car, 1954

Bubble cars

Still the best-looking car ever, the Lamborghini Marzal

Lamborghini Marzal – so futuristic, you have to wear a spacesuit to drive it

Ferrari 512 S Speciale, by Pininfarina

Ferrari 512 S Speciale – could only be driven by people without heads


When you wake up in the future, this is what the nurses will look like (Pierre Cardin)

In the future, everyone will wear a bucket on their head because of climate change (Pierre Cardin)

What to wear when the sea levels rise (Nina Ricci)

Even on the Moon, they will need to keep their beer cold (Paco Raban, I think; and Frigidaire)

For when astronauts go hungry (Paco Raban again, I think)

Neil Armstrong can rest easy, knowing the Moon will be kept clean

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The future we used to have, part 6

Time for yet another in my ongoing series on retro-futures. The past, they say, is another country and they do things differently there. But the future we’ve come to inhabit is every bit as different as the one the past imagined into existence. And not necessarily for the better. We never had utopia within our reach, but neither should we have turned our back on the struggle towards it.

There is something that strives towards utopia in Brutalist architecture – which no doubt explains why so many Brutalist projects did not ultimately survive. The car designs of Nuccio Bertone seem to me the closest automobile equivalent. And I still think the Lamborghini Marzal is one of the nicest-looking cars ever designed. According to Wikipedia, the Marzal was a one-off concept car, but I have a very clear memory of seeing one in lime green in Doha, Qatar, during the early 1970s. It belonged to a sheikh, and my father even got to drive it.


Genex, Tower, Belgrade

Habitat 67, Montreal

Torres Blancas, Madrid

Geisel Library, University of California, San Diego

Tricorn Centre, Portsmouth (demolished 2004)

Alexandra Road Estate, London


Lamborghini Marzal, 1967 (Bertone)

Inside the Lamborgini Marzal (Bertone)

Alfa Romeo Navajo, 1976 (Bertone)

In the future, all drivers will wear crash helmets and skintight clothing: Alfa Romeo Carabo, 1968 (Bertone)

In the future, all drivers will wear bikinis: Ferrari 512 S Modulo, 1970 (Pininfarina)


Boeing 733 SST

Myasishchev M-50 Bounder supersonic bomber

Rockwell XFV-12 supersonic VTOL fighter

McDonnell XF-88B hybrid supersonic jet-turboprop fighter


Hyperion Single Stage To Orbit (Philip Bono)

ROMBUS, Pegasus and Ithacus SSTOs (Philip Bono)


Soviet SPIRAL Project: GSR and OS (source: