I have been interested in the Airform houses designed by Wallace Neff since I first heard about them in 1983 at Harvard University, in Professor Eduard Sekler’s class: The History of Modern Architecture. Many years later, after moving to Los Angeles, I attended a tour of Wallace Neff homes, all Spanish style and built in the 1920’s, with the exception of the dome house he designed for his brother, Andrew Neff, built in 1946. Since that tour, I have had the idea that I would like to revive this construction type and method. More recently, I was moved by the devastation of tornadoes and fires in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas and inspired to look into this type of construction for its safety and energy efficiency. For the past year, I have been designing dome homes and multifamily dome structures. My research led me to one of the most prolific promoters of the airform construction method today, David South, of Italy, Texas (www.monolithic.com). Monolithic Inc. has greatly advanced the airform technology begun by Neff.
This past February, I participated in the Palm Springs Modernism Week demonstrating Wallace Neff’s construction method as revived by David South, by constructing an open air concrete bubble cabana. I also presented my own vision for dome constructions as aesthetically pleasing and architecturally exciting, in addition to being affordable fire, tornado, and earthquake resistant homes. On hand at my Modernism Week booth were copies of the new book on the airform buildings of Neff, No Nails, No Lumber, by Jeffrey Head, which documents Neff’s airform dome designs built throughout the world.
Located in Los Angeles is a man who has built many concrete domes in other parts of the world, Dan Hildebrand of Hildebrand Construction (www.hildebrandinc.com) I would like to thank Dan for his enormous contribution to the Concrete Bubble Cabana we built during Modernism Week. I hope we will build many more dome structures together. The cabana was donated to the Demuth Community Center in Palm Springs where we hope it will be enjoyed by many!
Continue to follow us here on our blog for future projects and announcements. If you would like to hear more on sustainable design concepts, we will be speaking on an AIA panel discussion at the AltBuild Expo in Santa Monica on Friday, May 11th : http://www.altbuildexpo.com/speakers_schedule_3.html