The CH:IP House from S. Cal Institute of Tech & CIT

UPDATE: The 2011 Solar Decathlon has taken place.  See the lovely CH:IP House in the 2011 Solar Decathlon.  The team tied for 1st place in Energy Balance and Hot Water, received 2nd in Engineering and Home Entertainment and 3rd in the category of Affordability, costing $262,500 to build.

– The Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology team is building a futuristic looking, uniquely shaped house for its entry into the Net – Zero 2011 Solar Decathlon. Its angled walls are part of its design, specifically angled for maximum solar benefits.

CH:IP Solar Decathlon model from Photo credit: U.S. Dept. of Energy Solar Decathlon

The CH:IP stands for Compact House: Increasing Possibility.

CH:IP looks quite compact and could have passive efficiencies build into it, depending on its materials and the direction that the house faces. If the windows on the lower side of the house are facing the south, then the raised portion of the house could point to the north. This shape and orientation may have passive conductive heating effects as the warmer air collected in the southern section of the house would naturally rise into the typically colder section located in the northern and raised section of the house.

A futuristic-looking house, CH:IP’s overall shape resembles a seal sunning itself on a beach.  Ramps extending out from the sides of the building have the appearance of flipper-like appendages, while a set of windows is located near the upward section of the house, looking as if the windows are the eyes of the creature.

Regardless of how CH:IP may appear to me, it may be really efficient and comfortable house.

Early version of the CH:IP House from the team from California for the 2011 Solar Decathlon

An earlier version of the website stated that the building was created to help alleviate urban densification, however, it is a structure would seemingly only fit as one house per lot.

This is opposed to a building built as a taller multistory building that could potentially house more people.  I’m not quite clear on how the unique shape will help in achieving “large scale market penetration”.  Could they mean that the building could be placed on smaller lots? Could they mean that it would be affordable, thus allowing more people to purchase it – is that idea what they are equating to “large scale market penetration”?

They also have stated that the house could be adjusted for different site conditions, however, the potential passive solar as well as thermodynamics benefits would be affected as in order to obtain solar gain in the northern hemisphere. The building’s windows, I believe in this case, the lower facing windows would need to point to the south, if they are pointed in any other direction it would potentially limit its dynamic range and cease to be an efficient passive house.

The team has put a lot of thought into both designing and building the structure and has placed other windows in strategic areas to allow natural sunlight into different part of the house.

The combined teams of both SCl-Arc/Caltech schools have carried out tests and simulation experiments to gather data to build the most comfortable, efficient house that they can create for the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

CHIP House furniture tester Tito, Photo from website

They even have a four legged furniture tester to try out their new designs.

The team also appears to be having lots of fun. In my opinion, learning and fun should have some sort of score in the Decathlon because it is important in the learning process.




See the CH:IP House as it displayed at the 2011 Solar Decathlon.

To see other models, head to the 2011 Solar Decathlon page and click through the list.

Check out the SCl-Arc/Caltech schools’ website to see more of Tito and of the progression of their building process:

CH:IP’s Facebook Page / Follow on Twitter @CHIP_2011

The 2011 Solar Decathlon Main Website:

This is one of 20 models of a competition home entered in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. The Solar Decathlon challenges university teams from around the world to create efficient, useful, attractive, zero-energy, solar powered homes. The 20 teams in the competition have created models. The models were on display at NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) in Golden, Colorado, for a couple of weeks in April of 2010, when I first went to have a sneak peek.

Keya Lea

Keya Lea likes to spend time outside, enjoying the sun.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.