CCA and SCU, as Team California, Win Architecture Contest and Take Lead in Solar Decathlon

Refract House's strategically placed openings extend each living space to the outside

California College of the Arts (CCA) and Santa Clara University (SCU), competing as Team California, took the lead in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon this morning by winning the architecture contest with a score of 98 out of a possible 100. Evaluating three main factors—architectural elements, holistic design, and inspiration—the jurors praised Team California's house as "beautiful in every respect." They commented specifically on its "excellent project documentation, crystal-clear concept, and successful translation of a regional architecture to Washington DC."

"This project broke out of the box and made exterior and interior space appear as one," they continued, "with a varied series of sensations from the cool, shaded entry to the cantilevered balconies . . . and a series of microclimates above and beyond" the requirements of the competition.

Team California also placed third today in the market viability contest, in a tie with Iowa State University, scoring 92 out of a possible 100. The jurors praised Team California's "excellent drawings" and were impressed with the fact that the team interacted with its target market, even inviting them over for coffee.

CCA's Director of Architecture Ila Berman commented, "The Solar Decathlon has been a tremendous opportunity for CCA students to apply their capacity for creative innovation in culture, media, and technology. They are thinking about the future of our planet and generating new, responsible models for green living. Our collaboration with Santa Clara's Engineering Department was a remarkable experience, embodying one of our leading goals: to engage in multidisciplinary research and design in support of important, project-based initiatives. Our future as architects, designers, and engineers depends on our ability to collectively, creatively, and intelligently deal with the kinds of challenges that this competition proposes. I am thrilled that we had the opportunity to participate, and I am very proud of the students."

Refract House Design
Team California has proven that you can live sustainably without compromising aesthetically. Its entry in the competition, titled Refract House, takes advantage of the latest advances in both technology and design.

Inspired by the outdoor lifestyle of the West Coast, Refract House has an expansive feel despite its compact, 800-square-foot footprint. The house creates strong connections between indoor and outdoor spaces, with 700 square feet of decking that includes a large central courtyard. Strategically placed openings extend each living space to the outside, contributing to the overall feeling of spaciousness.

The lighting design also creates a sense of bringing the outdoors in by utilizing different daylighting strategies such as clerestory windows and large sliding doors. This has the added benefit of minimizing the electric load. The inviting, tranquil interior design incorporates materials and products from individuals and companies that have demonstrated their dedication to sustainable practices. There are some surprising elements, for instance a lamp made from plastic drinking straws. Reclaimed California redwood rainscreen covers the house's exterior, providing a warm hue and varied texture.

Collaborative Effort
Students from many different disciplines—including architecture, ceramics, engineering, fashion design, fine arts, furniture, glass, graphic design, illustration, media arts, interior design, and textiles—contributed to Refract House. From the California clay plateware to the fine art on the walls, the furniture, and the clothing in the closet, all of the elements of Refract House were created or designed by students. CCA student (and one of five CCA project managers) Kyle Belcher comments, "It's exciting to see the results of two years of intense collaboration, not only between two schools, but also among architects, engineers, graphic designers, business students, artists, and interior designers."

Says Allison Kopf, SCU project manager, "Santa Clara University is proud of how much it's accomplished with California College of the Arts. We seamlessly merged engineering and design to create a luxurious, comfortable, eco-friendly home."

Architecture Programs at CCA
CCA's undergraduate and graduate architecture programs currently have an enrollment of 250 students. Both are accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). The undergraduate program, established in 1986, offers a five-year professional bachelor of architecture degree. CCA’s Master of Architecture Program was launched in 2004 and was formally granted NAAB accreditation in January 2008.

About the Solar Decathlon
In the Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, 20 university-led teams from around the world compete to design, build, and operate the most attractive, functional, and energy-efficient solar-powered home.

About California College of the Arts
Founded in 1907, California College of the Arts (CCA) is noted for the interdisciplinarity and breadth of its programs. It offers studies in 20 undergraduate and seven graduate majors in the areas of fine arts, architecture, design, and writing. The college offers bachelor of architecture, bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, master of architecture, master of arts, master of fine arts, and master of business administration degrees. With campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, CCA currently enrolls 1,800 full-time students.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering PhDs. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice.

Images available upon request. Students are available for interviews. Contact Brenda Tucker of CCA (415.336.7528, ) or Connie Coutain of SCU (408.829.4836, ).

More information:
Team California's website
Solar Decathlon
Refract House Flickr stream
CCA Sustainability Blog
CCA Twitter feed
CCA on Facebook