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Photo of a cluster of people standing behind a long, low table, with a young man in a black T-shirt speaking from a podium. Photo of the faces of two smiling young woman with cheeks touching. They are sitting in the front seat of a very small white car.

The Getting Around contest began today, and these two members of the University of Texas at Austin team hit the road in their electric vehicle.

Photo of two young boys looking down at a small rectangular pool with plantings around it.

It's especially gratifying to see children come to the Solar Decathlon. Many use the visit as homework for school projects, but just as many simply seem to be interested and want to learn about the houses.

Solar Decathlon 2007

Daily Journal - October 15, 2007

Darmstadt Takes the Architecture Prize

The Solar Decathlon is always an exciting place to be, but today it was especially so. Hundreds of students, media representatives, and visitors congregated in the center of the solar village at 10:00 a.m. for the Decathlon's first major announcement—the Architecture contest.

Over the weekend, the Architecture Jury, made up of Susan Maxman, Grant Simpson, and Gregory Kiss, toured each house to assess its aesthetic beauty, how well the solar and energy efficiency technologies were integrated, and a host of other criteria. They found all the houses to be of high quality and full of creative design attributes. After hours of deliberation, the following results were announced for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in Architecture:

1st place: Technische Universität Darmstadt - 193.25 points
2nd place: University of Maryland - 189.50 points
3rd place: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid - 187.50 points

The highest point value attainable for this contest is 200 points, which is more than any of the other nine contests.

Gregory Kiss of Kiss + Cathcart, Architects, had the honor of announcing the results. First he commented that the Decathlon is unique because the jurors are evaluating not only the designs, but also the actual product of those designs—the building itself. Then, he said, the teams must transport their homes over long distances and have them perform to rigorous specifications for some period of time.

Here are a few of the points the Architecture jurors noted about the three top homes:

Darmstadt—This project is successfully integrated at every level. The simple restrained concept is well executed, especially in the details. The moveable kitchen and expandable bathroom elements are fabulous, clever, and elegant. We feel the project pushes the envelope on all levels. It is the type of project we came to the Decathlon hoping to see!

Maryland—This is a very livable and convincing space with an elegant use of steel connectors throughout. The attention and reference to regional details are very well executed. The project really relates well to the Chesapeake Region, and we can easily visualize this house next to a bay. We are impressed that the students built almost everything themselves. There is no question that the project belongs in the top tier.

Madrid—This house has a lot of poetry to it. The exterior green door/wall is a terrific innovation and whimsical at the same time. The house feels like an exploration that is still in progress. The team made a terrific effort to consider the human aspect of the house. The pitched roof makes for an interesting space and the long linear space makes the house feel larger than it is.

Joerg Thoene is the student team leader of Darmstadt. He said his team was thrilled with the Architecture award. His was amazed with the competition, the media attention, and the many thousands of people who are coming to look at the houses. "I hope it has an impact on people," he said. "In Germany, energy efficiency is a huge issue... everybody talks about it."

Today was exciting, and we have much to look forward to the rest of the week. Tomorrow, the Communications contest results will be announced, with 100 points available to that winner. So be sure to keep tuning in!