The process of carrying out a project from start to finish includes many different variables, from determining the users' needs to figuring out how best to set up the work site. The latter are an important part of determining the project logistics as well as its design criteria. Colorado Outward Bound Micro Cabins emphasize this process, using a planning logic that takes into account the design of a minimally-sized living unit under extreme conditions as well as the execution of the assembly in a short time and in a place of difficult access.
This month we chose to feature the work of this team from the University of Colorado Denver as the Project of the Month because it highlights three key points related to the architectural design process. Architect Rick Sommerfeld, along with a group of students, had to manage the order in which the project was developed, applying design criteria conditioned by time, access and liveability.
1. Construction Site Optimisation (3 weeks)
Given the conditions of the site, the project needed to be constructed over a period of three weeks. Because of this restriction, a prefabricated structural system was used for each cottage. Steel was selected as the structural material because of its quick assembly, thus enabling the use of the facilities for summer courses at the University.
Leadville is the highest city in the US, resulting in various restrictions due to extreme weather conditions in the winter months. Snow, narrow roads and lots of trees impede the tasks, so the first design criteria is applied: the use of prefabricated elements that are easy to transport and assemble. The use of prefabricated panels for exterior and interior walls facilitated the implementation, and ceilings and floors were built on site.
3. Minimally-Sized Living Unit
Once the conditions related to space and time were determined, the initial idea for the structure arose: micro cabins that are able to accommodate one person to a small group. The aim was to create a social space: each individual cabin acts as a refuge, but together they form a community with communication between the constructed spaces. Finally, thanks to the collaboration of students from the University of Colorado, the resulting project has two key components: the structural frame (which places the refuges in their environment and provides protection from the elements) and the box it contains (a shelter that welcomes the user and provides protection and privacy). A cozy interior and an exterior that not only adds spaces for social communication, but also reduces the project's visual impact on its context.
We invite you to review the full publication of this project: