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Eco-Friendly Texas Home Channels New Orleans Shotguns

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Recently completed in Houston's Fourth Ward, the Shotgun Chameleon house by local architect Zui Ng was a project nearly a decade in the making. Originally conceived for the U.S. pavilion at the 2006 Venice Biennale, as part of an exhibit called Rebuilding After Katrina, it remained a mere concept until Ng decided to build the prototype for his own family last year.

According to Architectural Record, which had originally organized that Katrina exhibit, Ng developed the design with an understanding of the traditional shotgun houses of New Orleans. As such, the 2,000-square-foot home features a separate external entrance that allows the lower level of the building (equipped with its own bathroom and kitchen) to break off into an office or rental (much like how front rooms of NOLA shotguns would be rented out for extra income.)

Flexibility is not only in the layout. The "chameleon" skin of the house features a screen facade that can adopt wood siding that blends in with other houses, billboards in case the building adopts a commercial use, louvered wood for shade and breezes, and so on. Designed to maximize cross ventilation, the home boasts a double-height balcony and wood slat screens on both sides of the house. Other energy-efficient features include low-e insulated windows, LED lighting, and, soon to come, a rain harvesting system.

Built with a not-too-indulgent $300,000 budget (so that's $150 per square foot), the wow-moment in the home has to be the second floor living and dining area, which has 16-foot-high ceilings and glass doors out to the balcony, which makes a pretty swell entertaining spot. "We wanted to sustain the culture and history of the area," Ng tells the Record. "So we built the porch and balcony to be able to interact with our neighbors."

Shotgun Chameleon / ZDES [ArchDaily]