Denver International Airport, in conjunction with the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, hosted Barkitecture, a solar dog house competition. The dog houses were set up at the Denver International Airport, and an online auction and people's choice voting took place prior to the competition. Proceeds from the auction benefiting homeless pets at the Dumb Friends League, which is a pet adoption organization based in Denver.
The dog houses were designed by Denver-area architectural firms and were tailored to the personality of actual dogs from the Denver airport's Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS). CATS is a volunteer program that has 90 privately owned therapy dogs, who walk the airport (with their owners) and interact with travelers as a way to help relieve stress and anxiety.
The dog houses were as varied as the dogs themselves. All of the houses have solar panels donated by Panasonic, but what set them apart were the designs and accouterments such as a digging area, a wall of tennis balls, heated floors, a wall of rope netting and more.
The winner of the People's Choice Award with 1291 votes was built by RS&H, a nation-wide architecture, engineering and consulting firm . The house was inspired by the CATS therapy dog named Pesto, a Labrador retriever who loves treats and loves to lay in the sun. The concept of the home was to provide multiple degrees of openness to allow for a smaller space that is easier to keep warm in cold weather and can be opened up for comfort in the warmer weather. It was built with re-purposed or salvaged materials where ever possible. It has redwood frame for weather resistance. The sliding roof lets the sun in and keeps the weather out, and the wind-scoop design keeps the house ventilated. An insulating wall is lined with tennis balls, which can also be used as toys for Pesto. The house has a rainwater collector and the solar panel acts as the wind-scoop roof. It powers the green wall pump and radio.
The Barkitecture compeitition was a great way to bring exposure to the Solar Decathlon, taking place just a quick train ride away. The Solar Decathlon is a collegiate competition of 10 contests that challenge student teams to design and build full-size, energy-efficient, solar-powered houses. The winning team most successfully blends design excellence, smart energy strategies, innovation, and market potential. The Solar Decathlon allows visitors to tour the team houses free of charge and visit the Sustainability Expo to gather ideas to use in their own homes.