Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (11/27/13): Can you find the bubble houses?

Today is just before the American holiday of Thanksgiving, so today's challenge is fairly simple.  It's just for fun--shouldn't take you too long. 

Earlier this week I was thinking about how thankful I am to live in a nice house, with running water, electricity, and plumbing.  (I was especially thankful that I managed to find - and fix- a major water leak before it made the place a giant aquatic mess!)  This made me think about housing... 

Hollywood architect to the stars Wallace Neff is ALSO famous for his bubble houses.  They're domed houses that could be made cheaply and quickly, using few resources.  This, he thought, would bring him eternal fame as not just the architect to the rich and well-off, but also a provider of robust housing to the poor of the world.  
Illustration from Neff's original patent. (USPTO)

But that was then, and now, the bubble houses have mostly vanished into obscurity.  

A few still exist, though, and that leads to today's Challenge: 

1.   Can you find a current streetview image of one of Neff's bubble houses?? 
2.  Extra credit:  Can you give us the lat/long of the bubble house complex in Dakar (in Africa)?

Search on!  (Be sure to tell the tale of how you found the houses!) 


  1. Lots of hits on SEARCH [bubble house] Search suggested addng Pasadena which produced many sites talking about Neff's house but only this one gave the actual address 1097 S Los Robles which punched in to Streetview found it barely visible at the corner of Wallis

    Streetview has it at!q=1097+South+Los+Robles+Avenue%2C+Pasadena%2C+CA%2C+United+States&data=!1m8!1m3!1d3!2d-118.141316!3d34.126669!2m2!1f319.74!2f88.44!4f75!2m7!1e1!2m2!1s5dDOwkM63YQgybXdxr3Q4w!2e0!5m2!1s5dDOwkM63YQgybXdxr3Q4w!2e0!4m15!2m14!1m13!1s0x80c2c49bd584fca7%3A0xbd90f4bc7345c83a!3m8!1m3!1d99994!2d-125.2466005!3d50.012121!3m2!1i1680!2i936!4f13.1!4m2!3d34.126845!4d-118.141563&fid=5

    1097 s Los Robles corner of Wallis, Pasadena

    LAt/Long: via SEARCH [bubble house dakar gooogle earth] finds list of round houses and show me Rue 5, Dakar so in GE I find this and put a placemark lat: 14°43'49.67"N Long: 17°29'12.08"W

    This site shows them just new as well today:

    About half an hour reading about Neff. If he was so successful why did his mother finance his house ?


    1. using your streetview link - around the corner from 1097 S Los Robles - trying to get a view of the dome/bubble/shell house - turned around and saw someone trying to hide from the Gorgon Stare/eye of Saren/Pegmanmobile - probably wearing a horse head? there is no hiding… zoom out a bit, don't trip over the stick in the road…
      near the dome

    2. should have been Eye of Sauron…
      or -
      NGC 4151
      disambiguation confuses me
      the French Bubble redeux, offspring of Neff -


    3. Rue 5 was an incorrect location. I fixed the lat/long but forgot the Rue 5 bit.
      s'il vous plaît excusez mon erreur


  2. 1. The house/bubbles are obscured by trees,-114.960937&spn=108.469172,270.527344&t=h&z=3&vpsrc=1&iwloc=0004dfc3bd40d17b06ad5

    2. There were three sets of houses in Dakar. Here's the lat/long of one: @14.697047,-17.457887

    This map of 'round houses' was the key. You can see my search that uncovered it below.

    round houses - Google Maps
    12:19 PM
    airform house, pasadena california road OR street - Google Search
    12:18 PM
    Pasadena Heritage
    12:16 PM
    Pasadena Heritage Spring Home Tour – The Legacy of Wallace Neff - Pleasure Palate (Los Angeles , CA) - Meetup
    12:16 PM
    tour of six Neff homes on March 28 - Google Search
    12:16 PM
    A well-rounded genius - Los Angeles Times
    12:15 PM
    In Pasadena, Wallace Neff's last remaining 'bubble house' -
    12:11 PM
    pasadena california wallace neff - Google Search
    12:11 PM
    pasadena california - Google Search
    12:10 PM
    Wayback Machine 1946: Airform House by Wallace Neff : TreeHugger
    12:10 PM
    "wallace neff" architecture - Google Search
    12:08 PM
    12:08 PM
    wallace neff - Google Scholar
    12:08 PM
    12:08 PM
    12:08 PM
    12:08 PM
    "wallace neff" - Google Scholar
    12:08 PM

  3. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [Neff's bubble houses]
    [Neff's bubble houses Dakar]

    Bubble Houses This link shows the process of how Bubble Houses were made. Also says:"...With the exception of a bubble in Pasadena that Neff himself lived in, every one of Neff’s bubbles in the United States have been demolished." Also, "There have been, or still are, bubble houses in Pakistan, Egypt, Liberia, India, Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait, South Africa, The Virgin Islands, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, and Brazil." And, picture of community of 1,200 in Dakar.

    In Pasadena, Wallace Neff's last remaining 'bubble house' - See more at: Mentions :Jeffrey Head to adapt part of his new book on the so-called "bubble houses" of iconic L.A. architect Wallace Neff.

    [Image found on previous link + "bubble houses dakar latitude ]

    The rise and fall of Wallace Neff's bubble houses Found: Images and "The rise and fall of Wallace Neff's bubble houses" by Princeton Architectural Press.

    [wallace neff]

    Found: Andrew Neff House: 1097 S.Los Robles, Pasadena, CA. Shows image of the house. Airform 'Bubble' House 1945 - by architect Wallace Neff Searched the adress in Google Maps and found in imagery, close to the house the house from "Father of the bride" movie.

    [igloo village neff with image of Bubble homes]

    Wallace Neff Gallery

    [Wallace L. Neff dakar]
    Link text and mentions

    Yoff Village and Ouakam

    Also found House interiors

    [airform houses]
    CTRL-F Dakar to find 3 Wallace Neff houses. Clicked Directions and found answer.


    1. Can you find a current streetview image of one of Neff's bubble houses??
    Airform "Bubble House"

    2. Extra credit: Can you give us the lat/long of the bubble house complex in Dakar (in Africa)?
    14.7307° N, 17.486° W

    Happy Thanksgiving

    1. good find (PLANETº) and reminder we all live on the outside surface of a "bubble house"
      on the other side of the 'bubble'
      sidenote: interesting partial use of a quote at the beginning of the film [~00:14 in][~2:10 image of eternity] -
      in full

  4. slightly off point: east coast/architect variant - happy t-day from the Jaega indians…… near Jupiter (Zeus tie-in).
    Zeus Park
    pegman view
    27.056556,-80.131713 (FL)

    1. Dan, #3 to the abode or in? did you search the fix?

  5. I couldn't remember whether I'd read about bubble houses before or if it was geodesic dome houses. While doing the research, it turns out it was both. Went about this the hard way. I went to the blogs I read that most likely would be where I read about the bubble houses.

    [ bubble house ]

    [ bubble house ]

    [ neff ]

    [ neff ]

    Nothing. Remembering another lesson from Dr. Russell, I searched [ "wallace neff" ]  and I find a map of round houses.

    1. There is the Andrew Neff House
    in Pasadena

    2. The map of round houses above also lists 3 locations in Dakar of bubble houses. I launched Google Earth and dropped a pin to get the lat/long

    2a 14°43'50.45"N  17°29'10.94"W
    2b 14°41'49.21"N  17°27'28.15"W
    2c 14°41'53.41"N  17°27'23.32"W

    Turns out I had first read about the round houses in 2007 in a real hard copy newspaper. The "bra houses" comment made me chuckle.

  6. fwiw: Wallace Neff may have been Andrew McNally's grandson, but
    does anyone else think Wallace (note a Mountain View connection) was Fox Mulder's Dad?
    "The Truth is out there."
    a couple other ancillary items:
    re McNally - Altadena
    Material Dreams

    re owner of the Shell House - Steve Roden

    re updated use & another FL variant - Monolithic
    tiny dome home/FL
    he is Mulder's dad - alien, droid like structures
    construction, hitting them with hammers & axes - many Roden supplied pics
    Mos Espa - Africa
    nuff on Neff… he had to know the Canadian smoking man

    The Cigarette Smoking Man*: How do you take your coffee?
    Scully: Unadulterated, thank you.

    *see Skinner, #3.2/1995

    holy batkid… Wallace Neff was the smoking man.
    "The X-Files: The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati (#7.2)" (1999)
    The Cigarette Smoking Man: [to Mulder] Don't be so dramatic. Only part of you is dying. The part that played the hero. You've suffered enough - for the X-Files, for your partner, for the world. You're not Christ, you're not Prince Hamlet - you're not even Ralph Nader!

    The Cigarette Smoking Man: [to Mulder] I am your father.

    sRs solves another mystery… not sure about Hank Moody.

    1. retro, but had to add, mood reading music - already pumpkin pie time here on Guam…
      wonder where those B-52s are off to?
      Mark Snow
      MS wiki

  7. Other Round Houses Websites you tube

  8. Query {dakar housing 1940}

    Result - at Wordpress Click on imagetakes you to Google Maps> Round Houses and do Control F to find Pasadena round houses.

    14.730793,-17.486373 Quakam Dakar Senegal Africa

    Scroll down for image From book No Nails, No Lumber: The Bubble Houses of Wallace Neff” by Jeffrey Head. Princeton Architectural Press

    Sources for locating house in Pasadena

    Query {wallace neff bubble houses}
    Details of bubble houses with audio

    New use of goodyear rubber . Wallace Neff tied a Goodyear rubber balloon down to a concrete slab and sprayed it with concrete, then insulation, then more concrete. Result: the "Airform" house.

    bought by the Rodens Steve Roden was the perfect new owner of this unique house.

    I tried various terms for the Bubble House such as - Bubble OR Shell OR Airform OR Round

    Query {pasadena the "shell house" OR "bubble house"}

    Image & Map provided

    Query {pasadena architecture history round OR bubble OR airform OR shell "house"}

    Confirmation of location Several links available for further research. Map link provided as well giving us the coordinates 34.12677,-118.14111

    Scoll down to Dome House 1946

    Query { "round houses" pasadena neff}

    Answer confirmed -
    1097 South Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena, California, 91106, United States


    Atlas Obscura Image and address confirmation

    Current view from Wallis Street- Google Maps - Streetview behind trees

    Sources for information on current owner Steve Roden- Current owner and custodian of the Round House. Very interesting fellow that would have impressed Wallace Neff by his keen interest in the preserving this house and documenting its history.

    Bubble House Custodian

    <a href="”>Steven and Sari Roden current listing</a>

    Other Round Houses Websites you tube