The shimmering exterior panels on these two San Antonio homes boast a dual identity. During the day, the custom-made, perforated aluminum screens appear opaque from the outside. At night, the screens seem to almost disappear, adding just a hint of gauziness to the buildings’ illuminated windows.

Hilary Scruggs, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, designed, developed, and built the LEED-Silver project herself after moving to San Antonio from New York City in 2008. She says that in addition to providing shade, the screens also supply privacy and security. They add a layer of protection between the homes’ main walls and the street, so residents can leave their windows and doors open for cross-ventilation.

Initially, Scruggs lived in one of the 1,500-square-foot units, which were completed last summer. Now she rents them both to tenants. “I was shocked at how fast they rented,” she notes, guessing at a pent-up demand in the city for small-scale infill housing. Through her design/build company, Operative Ventures (a sibling to her design-only firm, Hilary Scruggs Design), she’s now working on a 1,300-square-foot spec house around the corner. And she’s also designing a five-unit rental project.