$99K House Series: The ShotFrame

An eco-minded Houston home for only $99K? Here’s a shot at it . . . all the way from Muncie, Indiana. Michael Gibson, who teaches at Ball State’s College of Architecture and Planning there and is also a research fellow at the university’s Institute for Digital Fabrication, sent in this design:

The ShotFrame House is an updated version of the traditional “shotgun” house that is frequently seen in Houston and other areas of the southern US. Shotgun houses are characterized by a series of simple rooms, lined up perfectly on a lot from front to back: providing the advantages of a small, inexpensive footprint which can be easily framed. The ShotFrame House uses a similarly aligned series of views, but improves the shotgun-style building by employing a prefabricated, computer-designed and manufactured framing system. This framing system allows the rooms . . . to expand at points along the length of the house, allowing daylight to penetrate the middle rooms.


The house’s small size (about 1200 square feet), use of structural insulated panel (SIP) walls, and generous ceiling heights allow natural ventilation to supplement mechanical heating and cooling, and even so, the house would require only compact heating and cooling units rather than large centralized systems.

The process of designing wood framing components and producing them with computer-controlled manufacturing methods reduces building costs while permitting a high degree of complexity in the form, without cost penalties: this has already been demonstrated in the prefab wood truss industry, which makes truss systems for large, but very cheap housing with complicated roof lines. The ShotFrame uses this technology as its core concept: the living environment is more light-filled, pleasing, and functional yet the cost of the building frame can be closely controlled.

Currently a full scale mock-up of the ShotFrame wood framing system has been funded and is under development in collaboration with Truss Manufacturing Systems (Indiana and North Carolina).

Swamplot is featuring home designs by participants in the 99K House Competition sponsored earlier this year by the Rice Design Alliance and the Houston Chapter of the AIA. You can see all the competition entries Swamplot has featured so far on this page.

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