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Ojo del Sol

Ojo del Sol
Ojo del Sol is located in California
Ojo del Sol
Location in California
Alternative names
  • The Tsui House
  • The Fish House
  • Tai Yang Yen
Etymology Ojo del Sol is Spanish for Eye of the Sun
General information
Type Single family dwelling
Architectural style Biomimetic architecture
Address 2747 Mathews Street, Berkeley, California
Country USA
Coordinates 37°51′22″N 122°17′8″W / 37.85611°N 122.28556°W / 37.85611; -122.28556
Construction started 1993
Completed 1995
Cost US$250,000
Owner Florence Tsui
Technical details
Floor area 2,200 square feet (200 m2)
Design and construction
Architect Eugene Tsui
Ojo del Sol is located in Oakland, California
Ojo del Sol
Location in Berkeley, California

Ojo del Sol, also called The Fish House by local residents, is a home designed in 1993 by architect Eugene Tsui. The building was constructed between 1994 and 1995 in a residential neighborhood of Berkeley California. The home’s name "Ojo Del Sol", Spanish for "Eye of the Sun", originates from the fifteen foot diameter eye-like window that faces south. According to the architect, the structure is based upon the world's most indestructible living creature, the Tardigrade.

The building's design is centered around durability, ecology, and sustainability. The building is said to draw upon the physiology of the tardigrade, a creature known for its durability, for its structural strength. In addition, the walls are angled inward at 4 degrees to "create a compressive structure with a low center of gravity further aiding in resistance to lateral turnover forces produced by strong earthquakes." A variety of both standard and non-standard building materials were used including: Concrete, Insulating concrete forms, hardwall (a type of gypsum plaster) structural plaster, Stucco, Non-toxic waterproofing, acrylic, marine fiberglass, douglas fir, recycled wood, and birch veneer plywood.

The house is designed to maintain a comfortable temperature with little power from the grid. "Water in the black tubes is heated by the sun throughout the day. At night the stored heat is radiated back into the interior of the house walls and provides radiant wall heat." For cooling, the house is set 1.5 meters into the ground, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

The 2,200 square feet (200 m2) home was built in 1994-1995 for a cost of US$250,000 (equivalent to $392,900 in 2016).

The building style is Nature Inspired Architecture or Biomimetic architecture. Biomimetic elements include:

  • The Tsui House
  • The Fish House
  • Tai Yang Yen
  • The overall draws from the tardigrade, the four-bedroom, two-story Tsui House is elliptical in shape and has parabolic arches.
  • The concrete forms create a concrete lattice structure which mimics the skeleton of the Cholla cactus.
  • The solar-heating system is based on the bone and vein structure of two dinosaurs, the Dimetrodon and the Stegosaurus.
  • The dimpled exterior surface enhances the aerodynamic efficiency by relieving wind friction like fish scales.


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