Berkeley Fish House

Fun Friday – The Berkeley Fish House

We need some entertainment after seeing tons of dropped ceilings and peeling laminate floors, so Old Houses Under Under $50k introduced Fun Friday a while back. It is a collection of weird structures, usually NOT for sale, simply of interest.   Today we feature the Berkeley Fish House.

The “Fish House” is located at 2747 Mathews St.,  Berkeley, California. Designed by Eugene Tssui, it is one of the most-photographed architectural designs in Berkeley.

Tssui actually designed it for his parents who wanted something that would be a fortress against earthquakes. Tssui did some research and learned that the tardigrade, a micro-animal also known as the water bear, is the most indestructible creature on the planet. With that in mind,  Tssui designed his parents a quirky house based on the architecture of  the tardigrade. His parents lived in the house from 1995 until 2014 and had no issues with floods, pests, or earthquakes.

 Matthews Street is a street of 1920s California bungalows without quirk, however, and the neighbors presented an issue, objecting to the fishy fortress.  The city’s design process dragged out for more than a year before the mayor allowed it to go through.

The house’s official name is Ojo del Sol or Tai Yang Yen – the Sun’s Eye. It was named so due to its south-facing 15-foot oculus window, an element found often in Byzantine and Neoclassical architecture. The oculus provides natural light and warms the house. Today, the Sun’s Eye house is known as what the public calls it – The Fish House.


Image by John Story

Image by John Story

Image by John Story


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