Protypes of sustainable, self-sufficient homes are on display this week on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

This week, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is host to the Solar Decathlon competition, a national showcase for sustainable self-sufficient home prototypes created by university architecture and engineering students from across the country. This year, Louisiana University at Lafayette offers an entry inspired by the disastrous impact of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, but also infused with the cultural and architectural tradition of Cajun country. Like all entries in the Decathlon, the BeauSoleil entry is designed with modular components, able to be transported to the Mall in D.C., set up on site for viewing by the public, then dismantled and moved to another location for permanent use. See a time-lapse video of the building's construction here.

Also like other houses in the competition, the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home has advanced solar technology intended to support off-grid performance. And with the lessons of 2005's devastating storms fresh in their minds, the team has equipped the house with wind-resistant structure and claddings, and with the ability to tie into an elevated foundation, above flood waters. But the house also includes such touches as outdoor porches and decks, to allow residents to engage in the community-oriented house-party social life typical of southern Louisiana. There's a big kitchen that can serve as the focus for family get-togethers. And there's a new high-tech take on the traditional "dog-trot" center gallery typical of the French Colonial vernacular — with a glass wall that folds back to allow unfettered access to the outdoors. For video of the Team BeauSoleil effort, check out YouTube. And for more information, take a tour of the team's website