Shapeshifter House Embraces the Desert

The Shapeshifter House, designed by the California based firm OPA, wasn’t just built in the desert—it embraces the desert landscape and life in its design. The slanted zinc-clad sections of the three story family home are meant to appear to be extensions of the surrounding terrain. Situated on a bluff that overlooks Reno, Nevada, the house opens up into a view of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

shapeshifter house surrounded by desert vegetation

The home was built for two art collectors and dealers that specialize in contemporary art and art of the American West. Before building the Shapeshifter house, the owners had lived in the arid high desert, so when they came to the outskirts of Reno, they wanted something that reflected not only their previous home, but also the contemporary movement in the Western style.

shapeshifter rooftop terrace at sunset

The house has plenty of room, with 5,900 square feet of space to it. At courtyard level, occupants and visitors find a wine cellar and a two car garage, as well as an open living room, dining area, and kitchen. The upper floors consist of a bedroom, a bathroom, and a private terrace. Space has also been set aside for a study and a gallery.

main bedroom with window wall overlooking town

The contemporary style means plenty of angles and straight edges. To help unite the house with the terrain, sculpted earth mounds surround the home and even form portions of its roof. The mounds, as well as the thick walls, help reduce the solar heat gain—something very important in the desert.

Check it out

shapeshifter house in desert land

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