Some lucky young outdoor adventurers in Colorado get to camp out in a group of amazing wood and steel cabins designed by architecture students at the University of Colorado Denver. Created for a school run by Outward Bound, a nonprofit that uses outdoor experiences to teach leadership skills and boost self-esteem, 14 cabins provide more than just shelter. They are sustainable micro-dormitories devised to connect students with nature, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
The cabins were designed for Colorado Outward Bound School in Leadville, one of 40 schools in the world run by Outward Bound. The cabins have a certain rustic charm, and blend into their surroundings unobtrusively. Each cabin was built on an elevated platform to reduce its environmental impact, with a corrugated metal snow roof to protect the boxy structure from the elements. The wood-and-steel construction means minimal maintenance will be needed to keep up their pristine condition. The cabins measure between 140 and 200 square feet, and were all constructed on-site in just three weeks. The cabins even have little covered porches.
Inside, the design is stripped down and minimalist, lined with milled birch plywood. Each cabin has multiple fold-down bunks, and small desks perfect for journaling about the day’s wilderness adventures. Picture windows offer a great vantage point for the world outdoors, good for observing the forest in bad weather. The box enclosure of each cabin and its porch are supported by a steel frame, which doubles as storage for outdoor equipment like mountain bikes, kayaks, and skis.
In recent years, architecture students at the University of Colorado program have also designed cabins for the Navajo reservation Utah. That project used reclaimed materials for a low-impact dwelling, conceived and built on a shoestring budget.
Images via Jesse Kuroiwa/University of Colorado