Architecture Monday

Oh, I like this.  A gaggle of cabins (14 in all), intended as micro-dormitories for the Colorado Outward Bound School.  There’s some serious nice stuff going on here.  I like how they tread lightly on the soil.  I like their choice of materials.  And I especially like how, while all following the same basic intent and pattern of construction (a frame, a porch, a dethatched shed roof, an insulated box, and housing for the students) they display wonderful range of diversity and design that surpasses the repetitive blandness that typifies most subdivisions in North America.

From the outside, the steel structure, with its cable X bracing, fits well with the forest surroundings.  But it’s the hot-rolled steel cladding that covers the insulated living quarters that wins hard in my book.  The random imprints that are inherent from the manufacturing process of the panels are not only very tree and leaf-like in its pattern, but the contrast between the sharp edges of the box with this random pattern is very striking.  This is only further rendered beautiful by the jewel-like windows, with some being very precise cuts into the face, and others pushing out as a steel-lined extrusion.  Glowing with the reflection of the wood paneling within the cabin, they become very lantern-like, beacons in the high mountains.

Inside, as mentioned before, the 14 cabins are divided in 14 different ways.  Folding furniture features prominently, letting the cabins be spacious and compact at the same time.   This intricate dance of walls-that-are-also-beds/storage/desks/etc is what allows for the variety of unique interiors, making it fun and pleasant to be in while adding functionality.

And oh those windows… simply marvelous.  Through an equally diverse placement, they provide fantastic connections to the picturesque surroundings, sometimes a full-on portal gazing outward, sometimes just a glimpse like a precious painting.  Couple that with entire wall sections that open to let the inside bleed seamlessly out into the landscape.

I mean, who wouldn’t want a desk like this?

Completely wonderful project.  A great use of rugged yet well selected materials, exquisite and careful detailing, and intentful design to create living spaces that excite and feel great to be in.

Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins by Colorado Building Workshop