Student-Built Micro Cabins Introduce Youth to the Great Outdoors

9 Modern dormitories designed by University of Colorado design students for use by local Outward Bound outdoor school program

Author

Field Mag

Photographer

Jesse Kuroiwa

Outdoor school was the highlight of my grade school experience. Not winning the four square tournament at lunch or getting to take the class hamster home for the holidays, but outdoor school. Now, if I would have been able to stay in awesome micro cabins like these built by Outward Bound, a non-profit school designed to introduce adolescents to the outdoors, it would have been even more formative.

While many students attending the temporary education experience sleep under the stars or in aging lodges across the country, in Colorado the 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-ed 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.

In the time since completion 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?

Published 10-06-2019

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