Future homes seen through eyes of the past

Speculating on things to come is irresistible

If you've ever seen one of the old Buck Rogers movie serials, with their packing-crate robots and Art Deco rockets shooting sparks, you can appreciate how quaint another era's vision of the future can be -- and how difficult it is to get it right. Yet speculating on things to come, whether in writing, in images, or in three dimensions, is something humans find irresistible. Architects are no exception. The Futurist movement of the early 20th century, for instance, saw technology as man's savior, and liked to wax poetic over things like turbines and high-voltage towers. Yet to many modern eyes, their stark, mechanistic cities of tomorrow are not so much redemptive as sinister. During the 1920s, the Russian Constructivists saw architecture in equally edgy terms. Thanks to Stalin's growing distaste for their work, their most ambitious ideas, like those of the Futurists, were never built. This fact has ironically worked in their favor, since speculating on the future is a good deal safer...