Modern Prefab Cabins for California State Parks

By Erika Heet / Published by Dwell
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Students dream up modular structures for camping around California parklands.

In an effort to modernize the experience of staying overnight at California State Park cabins, the Parks Forward Commission invited architecture students from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, to design new cabins to be placed at campgrounds throughout the state. The commission, an independent initiative designed to address the cultural, financial, and operational challenges facing California State Parks, revealed the designs at state fairs in the summer.

The Wedge is among the new cabin designs that will eventually be integrated into California State Parks.

The design challenge, led by Juintow Lin, associate professor of architecture at Cal Poly, asked students to balance issues of culture, sustainability, mobility, and construction. They answered with structures that could be easily prefabricated and relocated, with simple construction techniques and materials. They are low maintenance, fire resistant, and ADA compliant. "It’s a modern take on the traditional cabin," says Lin of The Wedge, the debut design, a slope-roofed wood building. "It was built on a chassis in a factory in four days and shipped on a truck to the fair," Lin Says. "The possibility for variations in materials are endless."

The structures were designed by Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona, students.

State Parks currently provides cabins for visitors at various parks in the system. The parks include McArthur-Burney Falls, Samuel P. Taylor, Bothe-Napa, Mount Tamalpais, Crystal Cove, Cuyamaca Rancho, and Anza-Borrego. The prototype on display at the State Fair will eventually be placed in a State Park to be enjoyed by Park visitors. Park officials are looking at a variety of locations throughout the state that could potentially each accommodate a group of ten to 15 cabins.

The compact, hardy cabins were designed to work in a variety of park settings, including the beach.

 

The first Wedge cabin was built in the factory in four days and shipped for display at a state fair in the summer.

When they are eventually integrated into the parks, the cabins are meant to stand in groups of ten to 15.

Erika Heet

@erikaheet

Erika Heet has been working in publishing for more than 20 years, including years spent as a senior editor at Architectural Digest and Robb Report. She has written for Architectural Digest, Robb Report, Interiors, Bon Appétit, Sierra Magazine, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. She recently wrote the foreword to New Tropical Classics: Hawaiian Homes by Shay Zak. She lives in a Topanga cabin with her artist husband and two children.

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