Post-Katrina Sustainable Architecture: The Shotgun House

by , 10/25/08

shotgun house, marjetica potrc, post-katrina, new orleans, nola community housing, new orleans rainwater harvest, new orleans solar power housing, new orleans classical architecture revival

The 9th ward in New Orleans has become a crazy quilt of architectural styles since the post-Katrina rebuild. In the overgrown fields of the neighborhood, traditionally built homes sit next to elevated solar powerhouses constructed by the Make It Right Foundation— making it clear that the solutions presented to address the needs of the still-recovering New Orleans community are very different from one another, logistically and culturally. Artist Marjetica Potrč’s solution is to revive a small, classic structure called the shotgun house which is native to the South. In collaboration with sustainable design firm Futureproof, she has created a simple and culturally powerful home and symbol.

shotgun house, marjetica potrc, post-katrina, new orleans, nola community housing, new orleans rainwater harvest, new orleans solar power housing, new orleans classical architecture revival

A shotgun house is a simple, narrow structure with doors on either end, no hallways. The rumored reason for its name is that it is a straight shot from one door to the other. The style originated in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century and was originally popular as a simple form of housing, but later become associated with poverty. Like many types of homes in the city’s area, it’s slightly elevated, useful for low flooding. A trend towards self-sustainability has also made creating opportunities to collect solar power and rainwater popular and both were included in this “prototype” home.

Potrč grounds her house in the bayou by framing it with two caryatids, sculptural female pillars, that serve as a metaphor for Potrč’s belief that the citizens of New Orleans are the “supporting columns” in reconstructing the new city.

Potrč is known for her architectural model homes and sustainable solutions: her past work has included a tornado shelter, a balcony windmill, an Amazonian primary school, a set of dry toilets, and a fruit and energy farm. The Shotgun House will be on display until next January at the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands, as part of the exhibition Heartland.

+ Marjetica Potrč

via we make money not art

Photos above: Marjetica Potrč, New Orleans: Shotgun House with Rainwater-Harvesting Tank, 2008. Installation view at Max Protetch Gallery, New York, 2008. Photos by Eli Ping Weinberg.

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  1. PresbyteraClaudia September 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I agree with Matt, a shotgun house is not a symbol of poverty. I live in a shotgun in a very nice neighborhood, and we love it. Shotgun houses are beautiful without being gaudy. I do love this article other than that, though.

  2. mattm2552 October 27, 2008 at 10:31 am

    A shotgun house is not a symbol of poverty. It is simply a style of house that was built in the first half of the 20th century on small lots in new orleans. You will find lots of middle class people who live in shot gun houses in some of the nicer neighborhoods in the city.

    Shot Gun houses are found all over the city, and all classes of people live in them. Yes there are lots that are in poor neighborhoods, but the neigborhood as a whole is the problem not the house.

    As with most houses and neighborhoods the class of people living in them tend to decline over time.

  3. The Revolution Corporation October 26, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    satellite dish & all…
    most of the “creative” katrina stuff i’ve seen from artists and “make it wrong’ers” seem to carelessly disrespect the culture of the region. i was frustrated with the excessive cost, flimsy construction, & clueless floor plans of the “katrina cottage”, but now they seem to be as good as it gets… :: sigh ::

  4. October 25, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    I love the symbolism of fusing traditional architecture with self-sufficient, sustainable technology, as well as the caryatids, I went to college in NOLA and spent 8 months working with a community-based organization helping to rebuild after the storm. But I haven’t been back since various groups have started constructing so many interesting and often visionary homes. Can’t wait to visit and check it out.

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