The 2011 Solar Decathlon is over a year and a half away, but teams around the world are already gearing up for the hottest competition in sustainable building. A brand new union has formed between the Southern California Institute of Architecture and CalTech – a collaboration which could likely result in a formidable competitor. Much like Team California, which was a team made up of Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts, the SCI-Arc and CalTech team (maybe Team SoCal?) will be packing some big guns with their prefabulous entry – CH:IP, which stands for Compact Housing : Increasing Possibility.

SCI-Arc and CalTech’s entry, CH:IP, is a welcome change from some of the other thin, long solar passive designed houses we’ve seen in the past. The home is designed to have a minimal footprint, with integrated solar technology and to be a house that can fit in any number of urban locations.

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SCI-Arc and CalTech joined forces back in October and started hatching their plan and creating preliminary designs for a off grid, solar powered, prefabricated house. They only had a month before they submitted their entry in order to be able to compete in the 2011 competition. In mid-April, twenty teams were accepted for the competition, including teams from around the US as well as some new ones from China, New Zealand, Belgium and Canada. Although, Team Germany, the winner of both the 2009 and 2007 competition, is strangely missing from the list of accepted entries. Accepted teams will now receive a $100,000 grant to help with costs for the project, but will most likely need additional funding to finish their houses.

Both schools are adding additional curriculum and seminars to their class schedule to help prepare their students with the knowledge they need to design and build the solar house, which will eventually be erected on the Mall in DC. We’re already getting excited about the next competition even though it’s still a year and half away! Good luck SCI-Arc and CalTech!

+ Solar Decathlon

+ Inhabitat Coverage of 2009 Solar Decathlon

+ SCI-Arc

+ CalTech