Post World War II there were all kinds of experiments going on to accommodate the returning GIs and their new baby boom families. California architect 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. According to the Washington Post:
Neff was an unlikely inventor of the modest bubble house. Grandson of the founder of Rand McNally, he grew up in luxury. As an architect he's best known for the Italian-style California mansions he designed for Hollywood's glitterati. Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and C ary Grant all owned Neff-designed houses. ( Madonna and Brad Pitt are among more recent celebrities to own his work.)
Only one airform house remains in the United States. It's a single-dome model, built in Pasadena, Calif., for the architect's brother. Neff himself lived in it before his death in 1982. Steve Roden and his wife live in it now.
"It is actually totally wonderful," Steve, an artist, told Answer Man. Only 1,000 square feet, the two-bedroom house has a ceiling that's 12 feet high at its tallest point.
There's hardly any closet space — "a dilemma," Steve admits — and he sometimes hits his head on the curved wall when he gets out of bed. The walls don't go all the way to the ceiling, being more like concrete partitions. Despite all that, Steve loves the house, which he likens to an inside-out swimming pool.