Wallace Neff considered the creation of bubble houses to be the pinnacle of his architectural talent. These amorphous buildings were undoubtedly a change from the stately mansions the pioneering California architect was known for creating for the Hollywood elite during the golden era of cinema. In 1944, Neff was thinking about ways to find inexpensive housing due to the post-war housing scarcity when, while shaving, a bubble on his sink caught his attention. Then it occurred to him: Why not construct with air?
From there, he suggested an approach he named “airform,” which allowed for the construction of dwellings in just 48 hours. The foundation of the house was constructed by pouring concrete in the shape of a disk, which was then covered by a sizable balloon in the shape of a dome. They would then use a pistol to spray the balloon with gunite, a compound made of water and dry cement, then deflate it after the gunite had dried. The phrase “bubble house” has evolved through time, and is now broadly defined as any building with an amorphous, blob-like form. Some architects have used the same construction method, while others are just enthralled by the futuristic, glob-like appearance of the final dwellings. Similar dwellings have frequently been mentioned in discussions on cheap housing as quick and relatively straightforward structures to build
AD examines this collection of nine distinctive bubble dwellings. These quirky residences, which range from Wallace’s original design to multi-dome mansions and other amorphous buildings, will make you question if straight angles are actually required.
Bubble Houses By Wallace Neff (Pasadena, California)
According to 99% Invisible, the innovative Californian architect lived in one of his concrete dome homes till the end of his life because he had such a great belief in them. After developing the airform method, Neff attracted a number of buyers for these residences, and the federal government even assisted him in his efforts to construct a whole town of these distinctive dwellings. However, a lot of the houses developed mold, and the majority were eventually torn down, while the bubble building method endures.
France’s Théoule-sur-Mer’s Palais Bulles
The Palais Bulles, which translates to “the Bubble Palace,” was created by architect Antti Lovag for its original owner Pierre Bernard and is possibly one of the most famous bubble homes in the whole world. Bernard and Lovag are credited with adding added to the house to make the mansion into what it is now. The website for the facility states that Lovag had a dream in which “everything was to be round, smooth, and soft, helping bodies, ideas, and feelings to flow freely.”
Xanadu Houses (Kissimmee, Florida)
Home automation and smart technology are quite widespread in today’s world, but this wasn’t always the case. Three Xanadu Houses were constructed around the United States in the early 1980s, and they were among the first to accept and experiment with this hitherto futuristic idea. Builder Bob Masters, who had long been attracted by the idea of employing inflated balloons for building, is credited with coming up with the idea. The first of the houses was built in Wisconsin Dells by Masters and was designed by Stewart Gordon. The most well-known of the series, though, was created by Roy Mason, was located here in Kissimmee, Florida, and drew hundreds of tourists there each day. Later, a third Xanadu House was constructed near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, but all of them were eventually torn down.
Den Bosch, The Netherlands’ Bolwoningen
This peculiar neighborhood in the Netherlands may appear from above to be a collection of golf balls poised on tees, ready to be struck. Dries Kreijkamp created the neighborhood, known as Den Bosch informally, as an experiment in low-cost housing. Like Neff, Kreijkamp was especially moved by how quickly the neighborhood might be built.
Salzburg, Austria’s Amorph Living Sculpture
This amorphous home was created by the design company Lechner & Lechner with the only purpose of capturing the greatest views of the ocean. Because the building was next to a pond, the architects made sure that each room had a clear view of or reference to the water. On the project page, it is said that “the sensual qualities of the pond should flow through the rooms and areas of the building and give the feeling of being as close to the pond as possible.”
Dome House (New Hope, Alabama)
The 2,133 square foot blue dome home was constructed by Monolithic Construction, the first monolithic dome constructor, which was established in the 1980s. The biggest dome in this structure serves as the primary living space, while the central dome holds amenities like the HVAC system. The family’s garage is located in the last dome, which has space for two vehicles.
House of the Flintstones in Hillsborough, California
Neff served as a major source of inspiration for William Nicholson when he created this house in Hillsborough, California, in 1976. Gunite was sprayed onto inflated balloons, together with a steel rebar and mesh structure, to create the blob-like house. Throughout its history, the house has gone through numerous names, including the Dome House, the Bubble House, and the Gumby House. Its current owner, Florence Fang, who erected a collection of TV show memorabilia in the front yard, including a dinosaur, a wooly mammoth, and a Fred Flintstone sculpture, is the reason it is known as the Flintstone House.
Birchall Bubble House (Koralee, Australia)
There are 11 crossing concrete domes that make up the 20 rooms of this house in Koralee, Australia. The motorized iris window shutters on most of the domes, which give the building a very futuristic appearance, are still arguably its most distinguishing feature. The house was originally Graham Birchall of Birchall & Partners’ senior thesis project.
Brittany, France’s Villages Club du Soleil Beg Meil
The Villages Club du Soleil Beg Meil is an all-inclusive beachfront resort close to Brittany, France. The lodgings were created by French architect Henri Mouette and Hungarian artist Pierre Szekely.