The Colorado Outward Bound School’s micro cabins blend beautifully with the landscape

From the architect: Located on a steep hillside in a lodgepole pine forest, these cabins were designed as micro dormitories for the Colorado Outward Bound School. The cabins sit lightly on the landscape, directing views from private spaces towards trees, rock outcroppings and distant mountain views of the Mosquito Range. More public “community” views are directed into social spaces that develop from the organization of the cabins in relationship to one another. These community spaces are made up of front porches and the negative spaces between cabins.

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To satisfy clients’ lodging and storage requirements, and to facilitate completion in three weeks of on-site construction, the cabins were conceived as two separate elements, a “box” and a “frame”. The “frame” acts as a storage device for the educators’ large gear (bikes, skis, kayaks, etc.) while simultaneously housing the cabin “box” and covered porches. The prefabricated cabin “box” rests in the frame under the protection of a “snow roof” designed to keep the winter snow load off the waterproofed roof below. Hot rolled steel provides a low maintenance rain screen for the box.  This steel cladding and the vertical columns blend with the lodgepole forest minimizing the visual impact of the cabins. Structural taped glazing on the windows eliminates mullions and connects the occupants directly with natural views.

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The interior of the cabin is skinned in CNC’d birch plywood bringing warmth to the interior and evoking a connection with the trees surrounding the site. The plywood is specifically milled to accommodate desks, beds and storage for each user. The walls and CNC’d plywood were prefabricated in Denver, flat packed onto trucks and shipped to Leadville to shorten the on-site construction timeline.

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Photo: Jesse Kuroiwa

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