“The artist and designer Michael Jantzen has added another structure to the surreal panorama made of his alternative-energy social and living spaces. This latest addition —Sun Rays Pavilion — is an oblique gathering area made of 12 precast concrete columns towering 150 feet tall. The Pavilion’s flat roof, as it were, faces south. Glazed with photovoltaic film, the structure generates its own electricity, with some to spare — providing the local power grid with surplus energy. Large glass sections and doors keep the space ventilated.
As it is with such projects, there are no production plans. Not yet, anyway. Nevertheless, in the fantastical landscape where many of Jantzen’s concepts reside, Sun Rays Pavilion serves its purpose: it is a gathering space, after all, visited in no small part by bloggers and magazine readers; it further broaches exactly those questions and concerns Jantzen hoped it would. Besides, as Jantzen tells me, the fate of a realized structure may be even harder to swallow than that of one confined to paper.
Until recently, Jantzen was based in Los Angeles, but I catch him now, relocated, in the Central Time Zone of St. Louis, MO. Below is the condensed and edited version of our talk about the energy it takes to power a building, and the energy it takes to deal with a home without a home.”
Katya Tylevich: I think of your projects in the context of vast, open spaces. St. Louis is a different story, isn’t it?
Michael Jantzen: The city is, which I don’t like. I’m not a city person at all. But the farmland around here is very conducive; the open spaces are quite beautiful, especially this time of year. Really, though, it doesn’t make that much difference to me, unless I’m actually building something physically. Conceptually — mentally — I can project wherever I want. I don’t build very much. [Laughs.] So my surroundings don’t make a lot of difference.
KT: It must be even harder to get things built now. Obvious statement?
MJ: You know, I design these things, and get them out on the Internet and hope someone will come back to me wanting to build. So far, all I seem to get is more press. [Laughs.] Which just leads to more press. Although, I just got hired to do a project. Which I can’t talk about. It’s all top secret.
MJ: If it happens, I’ll let you know
KT: You recently got Sun Rays Pavilion out on the Internet. What is its place among your other designs?
MJ: In the last few years, many of my projects have been looking at how we can create exciting public places — gathering places — that are architecturally interesting but also function. These places are able to gather and, in some cases, store alternative energy from the sun, wind, and so on, then distribute that energy to the community for which that structure is built. So the Sun Rays Pavilion is thinking very specifically about the use of solar energy and the photovoltaic films available now….
Check the rest of the interview here