Curved Space System / Peter Jon Pearce

For years I've had a childhood memory of playing in a space age bubble. I asked my mom and she had no idea what I was talking about. My deep digging on the web never provided any leads. I remembered it was in Rohr Park in Chula Vista, which also had a mini railroad. Last week, after talking to a friend who also had memories of the bubble, I decided to do another search.

It paid off.  

Source: Chula Vista Star News

This is the one I played on. It was constructed in 1978. 

It went by many names, such as Soap Bubble Castle, Bubble Maze, Curved Space Diamond System, or Curved Space Labyrinth. The Lexan plastic structure is a "nature-based, large scale, sculptural system that maps the geometry of a diamond crystal at approximately 16 billion times its actual size".  Peter Jon Pearce created the Curved Space Diamond System to demonstrate built environments patterned after natural structures. Much along the same lines as the Metabolism architecture movement in 1960s Japan.

One of the first systems was built inside the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in 1975.

They were installed in the following locations:

 Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan, 1978 and 1993.
Friendship Park, San Pedro California, 1981 
EPCOT, Orlando Florida, 1980 (above)
China Town, California, 1980 
Stevenson Park, Carson California, 1979 
Sweetwater Park, Chula Vista California, 1978 
Mason Park, Irvine California, 1978 
Brooklyn children museum, Brooklyn New York, 1975 
Aspen Design Conference 1975


Image: LA Times

Pearce studied product design at the Institute of Design of Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Before his work on the Curved Diamond Play System, he worked at the Eames Office. He pursued a position with Eames and was eventually offered a job by Charles after he saw a bent-plywood lounge chair he made in college. At some point he was also an assistant to Mr Dome himself Buckminster Fuller.

Image: The Story of Eames Furniture by Marilyn and John Neuhart

The chair he designed while at the Institute of Design of Illinois Institute and led to being hired at the Eames Office.

Image: The Story of Eames Furniture by Marilyn and John Neuhart

Early chair prototype.

Image: The Story of Eames Furniture by Marilyn and John Neuhart

Pearce was at the Eames Office from 1959 to 1962 and contributed to the following projects:
  • Made adaptations to the design of the furniture bases for the "Aluminum Group Furniture".
  • Member of the Eames design and production crew for the film "Glimpses of the U.S.A."
  • One of four team members who produced the prototypes of the "Time-Life Chair and Stool".
  • Staff member involved in the development of the 1961 "La Fonda Chair", made for the La Fonda del Sol restaurant which opened in New York's Time & Life Building, in 1961. (above)
  • Staff member involved in the development of the "Eames Contract Storage" units.
  • One of four team members who produced the prototype of the "Eames Tandem Sling Seating", initially installed at O'Hare and Dulles airports.
  • Staff member involved in the development of the 3473 Sofa.
Image: Louis Reens, via Design Boom

After leaving the Eames Office, Pearce designed and marketed his own fiberglass chair. Many years later he designed the Cachet office chair for Steelcase.

Image: The Story of Eames Furniture by Marilyn and John Neuhart

Pearce also designed and produced the frame and glazing materials for Biosphere 2. The science research facility in Oracle, Arizona was built between 1987 and 1991.

Source: Biosphere 2

Pearce has been living and working in Malibu. This is a rendering of the main living space in the Pearce Ecohouse. I like that he specified Eames seating. The rolling chairs behind are Pearce designs for Steelcase.  The house is a concept for a net-zero energy residence.

Source:  Peter Jon Pearce via Uncube Magazine

In 2008 a system was up for auction at Wright.

The backstory is that it was purchased on eBay in 2007. 

A portion of a Curved Space Playground Structure was on display at The Schindler House in 2013. Everything Loose Will Land was an exhibition exploring the cross-pollination that took place between architects and artists in Los Angeles in the 1970s, a time when the autonomy of art forms yielded to convergences, collaborations, borrowings and more.

Image: Joshua White via MAK Center 

There is at least one remaining at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan. It was built in 1978 and 1993.

Image: Nago Agoshima

Here it is in action.

The internet offers up some strange things.