A Long Island Campground Gets a Bunch of New Modern Cabins

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By Marissa Hermanson
In need of new accommodations for its campers, Wildwood State Park called on New York City-based design firm WXY to design a cabin prototype for the parks department to build at the campground in Long Island, New York, and other parks throughout the state.

The parks department requested that the cabins be contemporary and sensible in design, while also embracing the great outdoors. In addition, they asked that the new structures complement existing cabins at the campgrounds found throughout the state. 

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"It was important for us that they speak to our early group of 1930s cabins, but are built with an aesthetic that's contemporary and of our time," says Angelyn Chandler, Deputy Commissioner for Capital Programs of New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. "We wanted to have a dialogue with the past, but not try to recreate it. It’s a prototype that will go into parks where other cabins from the past already exist, and they need to harmonize together." 

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While the Works Progress Administration-era cabins have dark interiors, small windows, and low ceilings, the new contemporary cabins designed by WXY have bright interiors, large windows, and lofty ceilings. Constructed by the parks and rec staff, the 10 Wildwood State Park cabins are slated for completion in early 2018 and will range in size from 670 to 784 square feet. 

The exterior includes materials like cedar shingles, reclaimed mahogany trim, and metal roofing. A roof that pitches in three different directions gives the cabin a dynamic and contemporary silhouette. 

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 Inside, the cabin is bright and cheery with plenty of natural light. The interior walls and floors are clad in unfinished natural wood to ensure maximum longevity and low maintenance. "The idea was to have no paint and no finishes, and let things silver out," says WXY’s principal Claire Weisz. 

One-bedroom and two-bedroom cabins include a full kitchen and bathroom, and have an open and flexible floor plan. For instance, by sliding open the bedroom’s barn door, campers can create more space for large gatherings with built-in beds that double as extra seating. 

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Full kitchens encourage cooking with a dishwasher, hot plate, microwave, and refrigerator. Windows were placed at counter height, allowing natural light to illuminate the countertops for prepping food. Throughout the cabin, windows are strategically placed diagonally across from one another to encourage cross-ventilation. Embracing the great outdoors, large windows give campers views of nature from every room. 

From finishes to furnishings, the utilitarian and low-maintenance approach was embraced. For instance, you won’t find anything extraneous, like moldings. Furnishings are contemporary and colorful, but most importantly, they're durable—built to hold up to the day-to-day wear and tear that happens at a campground. Outdoor light fixtures that are low-energy and water-resistant are found throughout the interior. 

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"The details are in a way, robust, generous, chunky, and larger in scale," says Weisz. For instance, the railings on the porch were created to be bulkier than normal in order to withstand hard wear. 

Low-maintenance bathrooms are equipped with a basic toilet, sink, and shower, and have a resin floor with a drain for showering. And since people will be spending lots of time outdoors, there's plenty of outdoor living space with a screened porch, picnic table, and fire pit.

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The cabins were designed with versatility in mind so that they would be appropriate for campgrounds on the ocean or in the pine barrens. For instance, a group of 15 beachfront contemporary cabins are being built on Long Island’s south shore at Heckscher State Park and will be completed in 2018. 

Project credits:

-Architecture: WXY Architecture + Urban Design

-Builder: NYPRHP Long Island Region

-Structural Engineering and Landscape Design: Stantec 

-Civil Engineering: Cashin Associates