Michael Jantzen has spent years designing architectural concepts and sculptures you can sit inside that reflect his interest in interactive architecture. His latest creation, the Malleable Autonomous Retreat House, is envisioned as a novel off-grid vacation home that would allow occupants to fine-tune their interaction with the elements.

The Malleable Autonomous Retreat House consists of a glazed box, with sliding doors and roof, that serves as the home proper. This is enveloped by a large wooden canopy that features 32 hinged slotted panels.

The idea is that the wooden canopy would be manipulated with electric motors, or with small geared hand-cranks, to offer fine-control over the amount of sunlight, wind, and the view enjoyed by the residents.

"Whenever all of the panels are closed (or in the flat position) the house retains a simple rectangular form," explains Jantzen. "In this position, the space under the canopy is entirely shaded, and blocks most of the wind. As the hinged panels are opened to any degree, the shape of the house begins to change into a totally unpredictable form, which can be based on the desired climatic conditions under the canopy, and/or just aesthetic preferences."

The glazed living area would feature a bed, seating, tables, an area for food preparation, a composting toilet, and a bath. Propane gas would be used for both cooking and heating, but when the sun's out, the canopy panels could be opened to promote solar heat gain. The home would get all its electricity from solar panels.

The Malleable Autonomous Retreat House is a concept at present, but Jantzen tells us that he hopes to eventually build it in New Mexico. You might assume that it would serve as an art installation like the rotating house on a pole, but Jantzen tells us he would like to use it as a weekend retreat for himself and his wife.

If this does indeed come about (a similar design was previously built and sold to a customer in Korea), the dimensions of the wooden canopy structure would measure approximately 32 ft wide, 80 ft long, and 24 ft tall (9.7 x 24 x 7.3 m) when fully open. The enclosed glass area of the home would comprise around 400 sq ft (37 sq m) of floorspace.

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