A dozen graduate students who had not studied architecture before this past academic year took on the ambitious goal of revitalizing a state institution: camping.
Associate Architecture Professor Juintow Lin’s studio class reimagined the cabin during spring quarter. At least one model they are working on was expected to be placed in a state park, but the hope is that it will prove so popular it will become the new standard for what camping looks like in California.
“These are designed with the intention of being very real structures eventually,” student Kevin Easterling says. “It’s on its way.”
College of Environmental Design Dean Michael Woo, who serves on the independent Parks Forward Commission, was asked to have students take the lead in designing a cabin that might jumpstart interest among groups that are not typical campers, such as younger people and minorities.
“It is one small part of the work of the Parks Forward Commission, but it is one that is going to be very tangible,” Woo says.
Students spent two weeks researching the project, which included a visit to Henry W. Coe State Park in Northern California. They then devoted another two weeks to designing cabins based on specifications for size, portability and price. The cabins also could not have electricity or running water.
The class created more than 10 distinctively different cabin designs. Finalists were The Wedge, Skyline, Revo Pod and C Pitch +.
The 145-square-foot Wedge has a unique roof that sits at a 22.5-degree angle. It incorporates wood and glass for a more modern look and can fit one full-size bed and one twin-size bed. It also offers a porch where occupants can get some shade on a sunny day.
Skyline has windows that provide natural light and views from two sides. The 180-square-foot cabin includes areas for beds and storage, and an L-shaped porch.
Revo Pod is spread over 150 square feet and is inspired by the classical lifeguard structure. Lightweight and easy to transport, it can fit one to three people and provides elements of the traditional RV experience.
C Pitch + consists of wood and steel options. It has a generous amount of interior floor space that allows for multiple beds and plenty of storage. The cabin also has wrap-around windows.
“What we’re really trying to do is a remix of the architecture and culture of camping,” student Laida Aguirre says.
Lin’s students came from a range of academic backgrounds, including math, landscape architecture and civil engineering, and thus learned a lot of new topics while taking on the daunting task of rethinking the camping experience.
The selected cabin could be ready for use by the end of the year. A prototype of Wedge is set to be displayed at this month’s State Fair in Sacramento.