Futuristic homes in motion and up close

Jennifer Karmon

The biennial U.S. edition of the Solar Decathlon just wrapped up in Irvine, California, and Yahoo Homes is collaborating with Inhabitat -- a fantastic website for low-impact living -- to bring you a slideshow of some of the most incredible futuristic features that college visionaries have dreamed up. (Click here to go to the slideshow, "Homes of the future -- today.")

But some of these features are best seen in motion.

The Dynamic Augmented Living Environment (DALE) house by Sci-Arc and CalTech, for example, triples in size with the push of a button. DALE consists of two modules on rails. Pushed together, the modules add up to about 600 square feet -- but it's built for sunny Southern California with the expectation that the homeowners will usually have the modules separated to expose a pleasant patio area. Renderings of the home in motion start at a bit over a minute into the video:

Here's a virtual tour of the Ikaros house, a 2010 entry from Germany that's so energy-efficient it actually makes money for its owner by sending electricity back to the grid:

Before the Sci-Arc/CalTech team built DALE, it built the Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype, or CHIP:

Here's a news report and tour of the 2011 Solar Decathlon winner, the University of Maryland's WaterShed House, which contained indoor "wetlands" to recycle wastewater:

Also in 2011, students from China configured six shipping containers to create a Y-shaped home:

This year's Ecohabit house from the Stevens Institute of Technology has two impressive "future features": solar shingles and a smart home automation system that's leaps and bounds beyond the Clapper. Take a tour here:

The Borealis House, another entry this year, features a dense vertical garden to purify the air:

Perhaps the most visually distinctive characteristic of this year's winning entry, the LISI (Living Inspired by Sustainable Innovation) house from Austria, was the solar curtain surrounding the home. But that wasn't the only impressive feature:

Another moving house, Team Portugal's 2012 entry, Casas Em Movimento, rotated slowly to follow the path of the sun:

The lovely Harvest home by this year's Team Capitol DC had a bright-green shade screen with a temperature-sensitive wire that expands and contracts to open and close the shades depending on the heat:

In 2010, Virginia Tech's fantastic Lumenhaus took the top prize with its flexible-design sliding wall panels:

And finally, few exteriors have been as distinctive as the FabLab House shown at the 2010 Solar Decathlon:

Click here to go to the accompanying slideshow, "Homes of the future -- today."