So, my school where I teach sent me to the solar decathlon this year. I just got back from the trip. My verdict: while the intent of this competition is good, I am questioning the public outreach and market permeability of these wonderful architectural and engineering ideas to the mass market. The irony is also the fact that event was situated in Irvine, California, where many, many suburban development projects are ongoing and vast tracts of land will be occupied by monster suburban homes. How many of these homes will actually be inspired by the homes from the solar decathlon and achieve excellence in design and engineering?
The European teams, Austria and the Czech Republic knocked almost everyone else’s socks off. The level of sophistication and craftsmenship is unparalleled by the crass construction of typical American homes. A surprising win is actually from UN Las Vegas, who took a second place home.
Now, it is a matter of convincing my school to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to do this in the upcoming cycle so they could get their international exposure up and earn prestige among the international design community.
Check out all the homes here: http://www.the-xpo.org/