Versatility is a growing trend in architecture, especially as designers attempt to squeeze more use out of ever-shrinking urban lots. ZDES architects’ recently completed Shotgun Chameleon is a great example of flexible design that’s also eco-friendly to boot. Completed in Houston’s Fourth Ward, this 1,500-square-foot home boasts a chameleon-like skin and flexible interior to help reduce energy needs and generate commercial income.
Inspired by southern vernacular architecture, the Shotgun Chameleon arranges its interior spaces one behind the other in the style of the Gulf Coast’s narrow shotgun houses. This setup offers flexibility—two doors bookend the home so that the two spaces can be accessed separately—allowing homeowners to rent out the front or back room for commercial use, thus generating rent to offset the cost of a mortgage. The two-story building comprises three bedrooms and two baths. If the upstairs bedroom is rented out, the tenant can reach their room via an external stairway.
In addition to the versatility and potentially profitable building layout, the facade can also adapt to a variety of wind and solar orientations to help minimize the home’s energy footprint. Clad in a perforated metal mesh screen and wooden slats, the Shotgun Chameleon mitigates Houston’s hot summers by maximizing cross ventilation channeled through the south side. The angle of the roof helps protect the interior from unwanted solar heat gain, while allowing lower winter sun in. The mostly timber home also includes highly efficient mechanical equipment, a dual flush toilet, LEDs, foam insulation, and low-e insulated windows.
Images via ZDES architects, © Paul Hester