9 Bubble Houses Around the World

When Wallace Neff began designing bubble houses, he believed it was his greatest architectural achievement. The trailblazing California architect was known for designing stately mansion for the Hollywood elite during the golden age of film, and these amorphous structures were certainly a departure from his previous work. In 1944, Neff was contemplating affordable housing solutions in light of the post-war housing shortage, when a bubble on his sink caught his eye while shaving. Suddenly, an idea presented itself: Why not build with air?

From there, he proposed a technique he called airform, which made it possible to construct homes within 48 hours. Builders would first pour concrete in a circular disk as the home’s foundation, then inflated a large dome-shaped balloon over top. Next, they would blow gunite—a mixture of water and dry cement—from a gun onto the balloon, and deflate it after the gunite had dried. Now loosely characterized as any property with an amorphous, blob-like shape, the term “bubble house” has continued to evolve. Some designers have built off the same technique and others are simply fascinated by the futuristic, glob-like shape of the finished homes. In numerous occasions, similar homes have been included in conversations surrounding affordable housing as quick and relatively simple properties to build.

Here, AD surveys a collection of nine unique bubble houses. From Wallace’s original design to multi-dome mansions and other amorphous properties, these funky homes will have you rethinking if right angles are even necessary.

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