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A page from history – bubble houses

11 September 14 Author:Michelle Gaffaney

The really breaktaking thing about architecture is just how much is possible if you have the creativity and determination to do it. The story of the bubble house shows just how innovative architecture can be.

If you haven’t already, I would recommend checking out the podcast 99% Invisible with Roman Mars. It’s always interesting and it investigates the little elements of design and architecture that are easily missed but make a huge difference to our daily lives. You can check it out here

I recently caught up with a 99% Invisible story from a while back about bubble houses. Back in the 1930s an architect called Wallace Neff hit on the idea of building houses using giant concrete bubbles, made by pouring concrete over a semi-spherical balloon.

A solution to a problem

As a quick and cheap building method, bubble houses seemed like they might be the solution to America’s post-war housing shortage. A whole village of them was built in the US and communities were also built around the world as far apart as Senegal, Brazil and South Africa.

Of course, we know bubble houses didn’t really take off – but they are interesting because they were an experiment in finding new exciting ways to use materials differently (i.e. concrete) to meet a need (i.e. post-war housing shortage). Apparently living in one of the houses was a bit of a challenge – they had very strange, echoey acoustics and it was difficult to find furniture to fit or hang pictures.

What’s your dream house?

Can you imagine living in a bubble house? Maybe you’ve always wanted your own turret, or dreamed of having an underground shelter. Perhaps you’re passionate about a particular material and want to see how it could be incorporated into your dream home. With architecture, so much is possible and we want to help you make your dream a reality.

Make an enquiry about how we can help you achieve your ideal home. If you’re interested in the full story of the bubble house, the podcast is available here.

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Michelle Gaffaney
Michelle Gaffaney - Architectural Director
With a wealth of experience working on a range of projects, Michelle Gaffaney has a passion for design and strong relationships with her clients. Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn