The Dome House of Hillsborough: A Unique Architectural Journey
Located in the hills of Hillsborough, California, the Dome House stands as a testament to experimental architecture, blending innovation with artistic flair. Designed by architect William Nicholson in 1976, this unconventional residence has weathered disrepair, restoration, and a recent legal battle. This article explores the history, design, and controversies surrounding the Dome House, shedding light on its evolution over the years.
The Dome House’s inception drew inspiration from the airframe homes designed by Wallace Neff, reflecting a bold departure from traditional architectural norms. Conceived as part of a series of experimental domed buildings, architect William Nicholson envisioned a structure that combined aesthetics with resilience, embracing new materials and construction techniques.
Built on a concrete slab foundation, the Dome House’s construction was a fascinating process involving the spraying of shotcrete onto steel rebar and wire mesh frames over inflated aeronautical balloons. Executed by the company Fame Homes, this innovative technique aimed to create a residence capable of withstanding wildfires and earthquakes, emphasizing both form and function.
Living Inside the Dome
Spanning approximately 2,700 square feet, the Dome House offers a living space characterized by rounded interior surfaces. The residence comprises three bedrooms, including one accessed via a captivating spiral staircase inspired by an ice cream cone. Two bathrooms and a two-car garage complete the living space, providing a harmonious blend of unconventional design and practicality.
Inside the Dome House, every detail resonates with uniqueness. The master bathroom, for instance, features a floor adorned with rocks instead of traditional tiles, adding an organic touch to the interior. The design reflects a commitment to breaking away from conventional norms and creating an immersive living experience within the confines of a dome.
From Off-White to Purple: The Colorful Evolution
Originally presented in an off-white hue, the Dome House underwent a transformation in 2000 when it was repainted in a deep orange shade, adding a vibrant touch to its exterior. In a whimsical turn of events, one of the domes was later painted purple, showcasing the owners’ willingness to embrace creativity and experimentation in every aspect of their home.
The Flintstone House
The Dome House has earned an array of nicknames, including the popular “Flintstone House,” drawing parallels to the animated cartoon series “The Flintstones.” Other monikers include the Dome House, Gumby House, Worm Casting House, Bubble House, and “The Barbapapa House” from the character Barbapapa in the 1970s series. This eclectic nomenclature reflects the whimsical and multifaceted nature of the residence.
Restoration and Remodeling
By the mid-1980s, the Dome House faced disrepair due to water runoff from higher elevations damaging the foundation, leading to structural issues. Extensive restoration efforts in 1987 revitalized the house, underscoring its resilience and the commitment to preserving its unique architectural identity.
Eugene Tsui’s Remodel
In the early 2000s, San Francisco Bay Area architect Eugene Tsui undertook a remodel of the Dome House, showcasing the “Edises Kitchen” project. Tsui’s innovative approach aimed to enhance the residence’s functionality while preserving its distinctive character. The remodel, along with a proposed second residence on the property, added a new chapter to the Dome House’s story.
Controversy and Complaints
The Dome House’s unique appearance stirred controversy among some neighbors, prompting the formation of a local architectural review board. In March 2019, the town of Hillsborough filed a complaint against the then-owner, Florence Fang, alleging that modifications made to the house were a “public nuisance” without proper permits.
Resolution and Settlement
Florence Fang responded to the complaint by retaining the law offices of former San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto and Angela Alioto. The lawsuit reached a settlement in June 2021, allowing the modifications to remain, with Florence Fang receiving $125,000 from the city. This legal chapter, while challenging, highlighted the ongoing dialogue between architectural experimentation and local regulations.
The Dome House of Hillsborough stands as a beacon of architectural experimentation and resilience, defying conventional norms and inspiring a spectrum of emotions within the community. From its visionary design and construction innovations to colorful transformations and legal battles, the Dome House remains a symbol of artistic expression in the California hills. As it continues to evolve and captivate, the Dome House invites us to ponder the delicate balance between creativity and community consensus in the realm of experimental architecture.
Further Information On Flintstone House Burlingame Usa
Date Construction Started: 1974
Date Opened: 1976
Cost Of Building: $3 million
Architect: William Nicholson
Architectural Style: Free-form dome
Size Or Floor Area: 2,700 square feet
Height: 6 meters
Function Or Purpose: Residential Dwelling
Address: 45 Berryessa Way
Phone Number: N/A
Opening Hours: N/A