Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Homestead House Utilizes Steel for Unique, Efficient Design

“I can’t think of a material I would rather use in my experimental work then steel.”

Michael Jantzen has designed numerous architectural wonders in the last 40 years and one of his more recent is a steel structure inspired by one of his earliest pieces.

Called the Homestead House, the structure is designed using, in Jantzen’s words, “commercially available steel, prefabricated, modular, high strength, low cost arch building system normally used for agricultural purposes.”

“Back in the 1970s and 80s I had built a number of houses that were constructed from agricultural components,” says Jantzen. “These components were primarily steel roofs used to cover grain silos. Since then I have been interested in exploring the use of these components further because of the low cost and high strength of [steel].”

“I am especially intrigued with the idea of designing with steel components that require very little or no secondary support systems such as the silo roofs. This means that structures can be constructed very fast, often with unskilled labor, and since the strength of the structure is often formed into the skin of the component, much less material is needed.”

The Homestead House is able to generate its own electricity with photovoltaic cells and a small vertical axis wind turbine. Using solar heating and cooling system, it can function completely off the standard utility grid. Rainwater would be collected off roof arches and directed to storage containers.

Many of Jantzen’s structures specialize in eco-friendly building systems and steel plays into that heavily since it is able to be recycled numerous times as all steel in the United States is made up of a minimum of 25 percent recycled material.

Steel also offers several benefits over other materials from a design perspective.

“Steel components can provide a great deal of flexibility in design since the whole concept is based on a modular system of components that can be assembled in many different ways. This can be very difficult and costly to accomplish with many other materials,” Jantzen continued. “Steel has great untapped potential especially for housing from an aesthetic standpoint if people are willing to accept a very contemporary look.”

While Jantzen has continually received press and attention for his designs, he’s been fairly self-funded which has limited opportunities to expand on ideas. He hopes that with additional funding he can begin actual construction on several projects to show the application of his designs and would love to one day live in one of his homes with his wife Ellen.

For more information or inquire about ways to provide funding for projects, visit

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