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Photograph by Jesse Kuroiwa, courtesy of the University of Colorado-Denver

The New “Roughing It”

Colorado Outward Bound's microcabins bring sleek, modern design to the rugged high country.

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Sometimes even the most outdoorsy among us deserve a break from roughing it—which is why the Colorado Outward Bound School hired the University of Colorado Denver’s grad-student-populated Colorado Building Workshop (CBW) to design these creature-comfort cabins for guides spending the summer at Outward Bound’s Leadville Mountain Center. And the sparse yet delectably contemporary spaces have us wanting to spend a night.

The backstory: CBW is a CU Denver program that provides students who are earning their master’s degrees in architecture with hands-on experience. The grad students work with nonprofit organizations to finish a project in one semester, plus three weeks for construction. In this case, the results are modern structures that harmonize with their lodgepole pine surroundings thanks to cedar decks, birch plywood interiors, and foundations that sit lightly on the forest floor. “Outward Bound didn’t want these cabins littering the hillside,” says Rick Sommerfeld, CBW director and assistant professor at CU Denver. “They blend with the forest.” After a day spent hiking Colorado’s rugged alpine terrain, we’d be happy to call them home.

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