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SCI-Arc and Caltech's Spacesuit-Wearing Net-Zero House

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Images via CHIP

The creative geniuses at SCI-Arc and the engineering geniuses at Caltech recently completed the construction of a prefab, net-zero, solar-powered house for the US Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon. The Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype (CHIP) is covered with a layer of blue jean insulation (they call this exterior insulation "outsulation"), which is then wrapped in a vinyl membrane. In a statement at Metropolis mag, the team's project manager writes that "The resulting aesthetic is that of a spacesuit, with performance driving the visual."

According to the CHIP website, the house's interior is built for the "active Californian"" and "divided into a series of platforms which are terraced upward and inwards, from the most public to most private. The distribution of program from north-to-south, and high-to-low, facilitates the occupants' daily rhythms: a progression downhill in the morning in the form of sleep/groom/dress/eat/live - and vice versa in the evening." CHIP also has a computer system that does things like shift the house's energy usage based on weather forecasts.

There's more on the house and its goals over at
Metropolis mag. And just now the SCI-Arc Twitter feed announced that CHIP took second place in the engineering contest and is sitting at fourth place overall. If you happen to be in Washington DC in the next couple of days and want to check out Los Angeles genius at work, the competition runs through October 2 on the National Mall.
· CHIP 2011 [Official Site]
· SCI-Arc and Caltech Team Up to Defeat Germans in Solar Decathlon [Curbed LA]
· An Opportunity for Innovation [Metropolis Mag]

SCI-Arc

960 East Third St., Los Angeles, California 90013