Sustainable architecture, prefabricated housing, CO2- neutral living – all of these are not ideas from the last couple of years, even though the current media attention could create this impression.
The US of the 1960s – admittedly also due to the rising oil prices – was a hub for forward-looking and alternative architecture. Richard Buckminster Fuller, one could call him the guru of ecological thinking at that time, set new standards with inventions such as the geodetic dome – a masterpiece regarding the relationship between material use and constructive strength.
The Los Angeles-based Michael Jantzen, who met Buckminster Fuller as a student in the 1970s, is one of the few of that generation of architects who have stuck to the idea of revolutionising the traditional way of building and offering new architectural solutions in line with the flexible and impermanent life style we practiced long ago.
The M-house is one of Michael’s most expressive architectural works. Here is how he describes it:
“The M-house consists of a series of rectangular panels that are attached with hinges to an open space frame grid of seven interlocking cubes.The panels are hinged to the cubes in either a horizontal or a vertical orientation. The hinges allow the panels to fold into or out of the cube frames to perform various functions.
Some of the panels are insulated and contain windows and doors. These panels can completely enclose spaces that are heated and cooled. Other uninsulated panels fold in or out, over and around, open platforms to shade the sun, deflect the rain, or block the wind. Some of the panels unfold from the face of the cubes to become places to sit, places to sleep, places to work, or places to eat. Most of the slotted panels are oriented over and around these open platforms.
The platforms and the cube frames, are supported by adjustable legs which are attached to load bearing foot pads. In many cases the support frames do not require a foundation, and they can be adjusted to accommodate terrain variations.”
All of the M-house components are interchangeable and can be increased or decreased in numbers and size. The panels can be made in a curved configuration and from many different types of materials.
The existing M-house panels are assembled with a steel structural frame which supports thin sheets of a concrete composite. All of the exposed surfaces of the structure are painted.
The M-house was designed to function as a single private vacation retreat, or in multiple numbers and configurations, as a complete stand-alone, high-tech resort complex. The house can be designed to be self sufficient, powered by alternative energy sources such as the sun and the wind.
The M-vironments were developed to accommodate a wide range of markets. With different sizes, shapes, materials, and panel types, the system can be used for exhibit structures, pavilions, play environments for kids, retail spaces, office modules, and many other commercial applications.
Here an example of Michael Jantzen older works: