Architectural Inspo: Colorado Outward Bound School Micro Cabins

Modern dormitories designed to introduce young minds to the great outdoors

As a youth the absolute highlight of my grade school education was not winning the four square tournament at lunch or getting to take the class hamster home for the holidays, but outdoor school. Outward Bound, a non-profit school designed to introduce adolescents to the outdoors and teach them the real skills they’ll need to survive in the world to come, is a shining star in the outdoor school ecosystem. And while many students attending the brief school sleep under the stars and in lodges across the country, in Colorado they program has traded leaky lean-tos for brilliantly-designed modern dormitories.

Designed and built by students of the Colorado Building Workshop, an architecture program within the greater school of design at the University of Colorado Denver, the series of micro cabins sit on a steep hillside in the Mosquito Range. Sat deep in a lodgepole pine forest, each of the 9 cabins is designed to hold two to three students, providing a place to sleep, work, and store gear.

Though each cabin is unique in design, the structures are all based on the same elemental approach—a “box” and a “frame.” The steel frame elevates the structure off the ground, minimizing the impact on the environment, and covers the porch and storage areas. The box rests within the frame, clad in hot rolled steel on the exterior and CNC’d birch plywood inside. Its simple, efficient, and damn attractive. Plus most was prefabricated in Denver and flat packed into the build site via trucks, to reduce on-site construction time.

Completed in 2015, the project has received multiple awards and much acclaim, and for good reason. What’s better than student designed, expert built buildings created especially for the purpose of introducing younger students to the influential outdoor world as they enter the most important stage of their adolescent lives?

visit the Colorado Building Workshop for more info and pick up a copy of new book "The Hinterland" for more cabin inspiration

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