Gehry Designs Shotgun House for New Orleans


Photos from Manning Architects via Architectural Record

There is a lot of disagreement about why the narrow, deep houses common in New Orleans were called "shotgun" and where they came from. There are no halls and one room connects directly to another, so it was said that you could open the doors and fire a shotgun from front to back. Some say the design developed because halls and closets were considered rooms for tax purposes; others note that it was terrific for cross-ventilation from front to back and they were great for hot climates.

Now New Orleans artist Frank Tannen collaborated with Frank Gehry (separate from his work with Brad Pitt and Make it Right) on the ModGun, for Global Green USA. It is a very clever version of the traditional shotgun that has all the benefits of a shotgun with a bit of privacy and circulation thrown in.


It breaks the components up into modular 14' squares but separates them enough that one can get from room to room, (unlike the traditional shotgun shown in the sketch) enclosing the circulation space with a screened porch.

So one gets all of the ventilation benefits of a traditional shotgun and fits on a narrow lot, while getting a little privacy as well. All the modules are standard sizes; Co-designer Tannen tells Architectural Record:

"This is part of the economy of the house," says Tannen. "This will also offer the most flexibility for the buyer to configure rooms to suit their needs."

From the Global Green site:

"Tannen originally developed the Modgun "incorporating sustainability, affordability, and preservation of traditional local architectural styles to yield a model that would best facilitate the return of New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. It was planned to allow builders or homeowners to build one room at a time, adding each as funds became available"


"The Modgun design, while based on traditional elements of the 19th century African Caribbean design built for long, narrow New Orleans lots, is geared toward exploring new ways of building with respect to Gulf Coast culture and climate through the use of modular and prefab construction techniques. For example, the Modgun incorporates many cutting edge designs for natural cooling such as screened porches that facilitate air flow, twists and separations between blocks that deviate from the all-in-a-row line-up of the traditional shotgun for increased ventilation and privacy, and oversized windows and doors that allow increased air circulation."

New Orleans architect Ray Manning will be providing the local design services. More in Architectural Record and Global Green

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