michael jantzen

michael jantzen

Santa Fe, NM, US


The 1997 Malibu Video Beach House


In light of many projects that merge media and architecture being built today, like The Las Vegas Sphere, it is interesting to recall some of the early work of Michael Jantzen.  Michael began to propose these kinds of projects more then 30 years ago, projects like the Malibu Video Beach House that would use video technology of the time to replace large parts of a traditionally constructed house.

Malibu Video Beach House

 This conceptual proposal for a weekend beach house would be constructed on a vacant lot sandwiched in-between two existing houses along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu California. Here the houses line up side by side along the road with only a thin sliver of the ocean and beach visible between them.

The facade of the Malibu video beach house facing the highway is covered with thin gas-plasma television screens that create a full-size video interface with the real world. These screens display images and sounds of the real beach that is obscured by the house itself. The beach can be shown in real or recorded time. Day recordings can be played back at night; sunny day recordings can be played on cloudy days; summer days can be shown in winter. Over scaled detailed images of the beach and ocean can be shown as well as digitally altered images.

A board walk leads guests up to the video beach wall where they can walk in through a mirrored doorway. The interior of the video wall is partially covered with a grid of mirrors that reflect the real beach back into the house. Some of the mirrors are actually plasma TV screens that can display real-time full sized or detailed images and sounds from the outside. Again, some may be prerecorded and some may be of the previous occupants.

Three walls of the house are made of structural concrete, surfaced with beach sand. This sand texture inside and outside, suggests that the house may have been formed from the beach like a child's sand castle. Real beach sand also covers much of the interior floor area and all of the open deck on top of the house adjacent to a shallow wading pool. The rest of the floor area inside the house is covered with weathered wood planks.

The design of all of the facilities inside the house that accommodate basic living functions like, bathing, sleeping, eating, working and entertaining are symbolically based on images of objects associated with the beach environment. The food preparation module refers to food carts seen at the beach. The bath, toilet, storage and closet modules suggest the portable toilets use at the beach. All of the furniture suggests beach furniture. The upper level office loft structure looks as though it might be part of a lifeguard stand. A replica of a concrete beach fire pit sits on the lower level on the sand. Instead of a real fire, the pit contains various plasma TV screens showing fire images and sounds along with some real fire word and a bit of heat available on demand from a hidden electric heater. A smaller second video fire place sits on the sand in the upper level sleeping and office space.

The two side walls of the house are fitted with various sized thin flat plane plasma TV screens that are hinged to fold flat against the wall or swing out. These screens could be considered video "windows" to view the local environment (and the rest of the world). They create a real time interface with the beach as seen through the atrium. Cameras would be installed at various locations around the house and would send real time images and sounds to the video "windows". Selections could be made for display from an ever changing menu including information from other parts of the world via the Internet. They could be used for security and for conducting business, teleconferencing , etc.

The house would have its own Web sight on the Internet and could be accessed in real time to , among other things, share the ocean view and sounds.

Various audio environments could be created within and around the house by way of strategically planted microphones. These would record sounds from the local environment and play them back in various forms to create the desired effects.

A large screen mounted on a roller near the top of the atrium can be lowered for sun shading or privacy. It can also be used as a video screen showing prerecorded images of the beach providing a beach view at night.

Four thin plasma screens displaying images and sounds of various birds as they fly over the beach are hung from the top of the glass atrium.  Some images and sounds are shown in real time, some are prerecorded.

At the base of the atrium is a small water pool with a wave machine. It produces real waves that wash up onto the real sand inside the house. A bridge spanning it is made of glass covered video monitors displaying images of fish swimming in the ocean. Sometimes the images are sent in real time from cameras mounted in the ocean in front of the house, and sometimes they are prerecorded.

The top of the atrium is covered with photo voltaic cells that supply most of the electrical needs of the house. They also heat the water. Solar heat is also passively stored in the thermal mass of the floor and walls during the winter for space heating. Heat is vented to the outside during the summer.

The house's ceilings are made of curved, translucent, back lit fiberglass panels and are punctured by three skylights. One skylight is built in under the top deck level pool, so the light is diffracted through the water. The other two (one on each level) are made of video screens. The screens are showing views and sounds of the sky, (either real-time or prerecorded) and sometimes show fish swimming in the ocean, viewed from underneath looking toward the sky.


Michael Jantzen

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Status: Unbuilt