Modern Oasis Design Provides Shade, Makes Energy


Call it a modern oasis -- a place that doesn't just provide respite from the searing desert heat, but also channels the sun's strong rays into producing electricity for the local power grid.

Artist/inventor Michael Jantzen's new design proposal for a Solar Winds Desert Power Plant envisions a large public gathering place, inspired by the shape of a flowering plant, to be located in a public park in a hot, dry climate:

[S]olar energy is gathered from flexible solar cells that are mounted onto the 24 curved leaves of the symbolic plant. [W]ind energy is gathered from a large vertical-axis wind turbine especially designed to symbolically refer to the flower of the plant. [The] large circular bench for visitors built in around the symbolic stem... and much of the space under the symbolic leaves ... are shaded throughout the day, giving the visitors some relief from the hot desert sun.


A prolific designer whose proposals have previously been featured many times on TreeHugger, Jantzen has been experimenting with eco-friendly architectural concepts for decades and has devoted much attention to thinking about how solar and wind power can be integrated into buildings and works of public art.

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Earlier Jantzen concepts have included a mobile, off-the-grid "autonomous house" and a solar vacation house (both envisioned way back in the 1970s); super-green greenhouses; steel prefab and dome houses; and a far-out "transformation house" with segments that rotate to catch the sun, wind, rain, or different views.

"I do not consider myself an architect, but rather an artist and inventor who often uses architecture as an art form," Jantzen writes on his website. "I hope that all of my work will become a catalyst for new thinking in the minds of all those who encounter it."

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