Little Cabins on the Prairie

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By Kelsey Keith / Published by Dwell
With these modern-day lodges for Kansas City campers heading to the country, a Missouri architecture firm puts a fresh face on a 100-year-old Girl Scout tradition.
Little Cabins on the Prairie - Photo 1 of 2 - Two El Dorado principals, Douglas Stockman and David Dowell, enlisted the elbow grease of students in their fifth-year design studio at Kansas State University to help design and fabricate the bunkbeds that line the cabin walls.

Two El Dorado principals, Douglas Stockman and David Dowell, enlisted the elbow grease of students in their fifth-year design studio at Kansas State University to help design and fabricate the bunkbeds that line the cabin walls.

A far cry from the rustic cabins—often little more than enclosed tents—that former Girl Scouts may recall from back in the day, the new bunkhouses at Camp Prairie Schooner outside of Kansas City, Missouri, are geared toward the 21st-century urban camper. Architect Douglas Stockman of El Dorado Inc. explains that his firm designed the structures for city-dwelling youngsters "with some of the comforts of being at home, plus technology as a tool for the activities associated with camp."

Vernacular strokes include the roof-line—uninterrupted gables that evoke traditional bunkhouse architecture—and cladding. Though one might not categorize corrugated metal as strictly regional, Stockman explains, "It’s widely used throughout Missouri and is the cheapest material you can find that requires virtually no maintenance"—a tactical fiscal choice for the nonprofit organization.

Each building is set apart by vibrant colors applied to the ends—the hues are based on Girl Scout cookie boxes—that also provide nightlight-like illumination when the sun sets.

Little Cabins on the Prairie - Photo 2 of 2 - The two-tone corrugated metal cladding helps the sheds blend into the landscape, along with windows custom-colored by the manufacturer to match.

The two-tone corrugated metal cladding helps the sheds blend into the landscape, along with windows custom-colored by the manufacturer to match.