Saturday, 9 June 2007

Jantzen Thinks Outside The Box

Michael Jantzen is nothing short of a stalwart for the cliché ‘thinking outside the box’. With a Master of Fine Arts in multimedia Jantzen unconventionally blends/merges ideas in art & architecture, and creates shapes and concepts of functionality beyond the period. Spending the best part of his ‘career’ exploring alternative energy systems in architecture Jantzen founded the non profit Human Shelter Research Institute and further dedicated himself to the development of alternative human shelter systems. Alternative being the operative word! Here are my 3 favourite Jantzen works:

Wind Shaped Pavilion

Because the outer shell of the pavilion is made of lightweight fabric the wind is able to rotate the 6 levels around a central support frame. The cool thing is that as the wind continues to alter the structures shape it generates power for night time illumination, and as long as the wind continues to blow there is slim to no chance that it will ever return to its original shape!


The stairscape is basically a set of unusual stairs for children & adults. Jantzen says that through this work he is challenging status quo concepts of functionality, stating that the stairscape can be a public gathering place to promote communication & physical fitness.


35 years of research & experimentation went into this sustainable, recyclable, relocatable house. The structure is made up of customizable ‘cubes’ that can be shipped in flatpack and erected in a new location to suit both the environment & the M-House dwellers. Jantzen wants to see other architects designing M-House ‘cubes’ so dwellers can exchange parts. There has actually only been 1 of these houses made and it was sold in March 07 at auction for an undisclosed amount.

It’s impossible not to respect Jantzen for his nobel attempts at challenging both design and concepts of functionality, but it is also impossible not to ask how practical these designs really are. Realistically funding for these types of projects is extremely limited although this may change. There also seems to be certain functionality issues with many of his designs, for example the M-House has no utilities, and I would personally be afraid of entering a multi level pavilion made out of ‘lightweight fabric’. Putting these flaws aside though I send my respect to Jantzen for pushing the envelope and challenging all of the people who say no.

No comments: