This October, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon—a biennial competition encouraging schools from around the country to create affordable, solar powered, Net Zero houses—will be held outside of Washington D.C. The new location, in the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, gives SCI-Arc and Caltech a distinct home field advantage. The team of 16 SCI-Arc and 20 Caltech students is creating a fascinating structure, called DALE, which stands for Dynamic Augmented Living Environment (their last entry was called CHIP.. get it?) that could only be possible in the moderate Southern California climate. The 600-square-foot home splits in half and rolls apart on rails at the push of a button, creating a large central courtyard. Photovoltaic panels project from the rooflines to provide shade for the courtyard and the home’s steel and lumber frame is wrapped in a tight vinyl covering. Keeping up with the net zero efficiency demands of the competition, the house will utilize solar thermal heating and energy star rated appliances in addition to the rooftop solar panels, but its small size is one of the greenest things about it. “It would be great to show people we don’t need to live in enormous McMansions in Southern California,” said team member Paige Chambers. The project is being funded by several sources, including the Department of Energy. A mockup is being built in the SCI-Arc parking lot and should be finished by August. The decathlon, which includes 20 teams, will take place from October 3-13.
Posts tagged with "CalTech":
A band of students from SCI-Arc and Caltech have been selected to compete in the DOE's Solar Decathlon, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on October 2011. The team will go head to head with 20 other student groups from all over the world—including Canada, Belgium, China, and New Zeland—to determine once and for all, or at least for the next two years, who can build the most livable and sustainable sun-powered residence of 500 square feet or less. SCI-ARC/Caltech will spend the next year and a half completing design and construction on their entry, which, at least in its conceptual stage, they have dubbed CH:IP/Compact House: Increasing Possibility. An exhibition of the proposal is now on display at SCI-Arc, and will be shown at Caltech on Earth Day, April 22. The team will also have a booth at the ArtBuild Expo on May 7-8 in Santa Monica. Go, see, and you may have a chance to meet AN intern Elizabeth Neigert, who is a member of the team from SCI-Arc.
Yesterday we toured Morphosis’ new Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech. The 100,000 square foot, $50 million building’s most notable architectural features are its cracks, fissures, tilts, and expanding and contracting walkways and apertures; elements that seem to suit it more to a seismology building, but also work to represent the epic tumult of space. The building’s façade is composed of a folding and angling screen of red fiber reinforced cement panels set over a pvc membrane. The horizontal frontage is beset with large, cracked voids and sharp, warped thrusts of wall that provide a good preview of what’s inside. The building’s main stairway—a steel mesh and then concrete surface that compresses and expands as it progresses— is its visual centerpiece. It twists through a surreal, and somewhat disorienting, conglomeration of intersecting white walls, angular windows, and telescoping skylights, violently sending visual pathways and shards of light in every direction. This area, which is at times surprisingly narrow, is shockingly dramatic, but at times dizzying. Cahill's three floors of warped-walled offices and classrooms are peaceful by comparison. They’re located on long, angled blue hallways following a grid-like plan that contains glassy offices along its exterior and conference rooms and meeting spaces along its interior. The building’s labs are located on a basement floor lit both through artificial light and a large light moat that circles the building. We’ll be featuring a critique of the building, which has finally united all of Caltech’s astronomers in one place, in our next California issue, so stay tuned…