For the 2009 Design It: Shelter Competition I wanted to design a shelter that was appropriate for the Colorado Rocky Mountains, for both summer and winter. The high country of Colorado is filled with beautiful mountain vistas and many sun-filled days (even in the winter), so I wanted a shelter that maximized these natural attributes to make a comfortable and inspiring space. The site for my shelter is along the Blue River in Summit County, just north of the town of Silverthorne. This location gave me most things I would want in a small cabin – great views of mountains (in this case 13,534 foot high Mount Powell), a place to fish, and secluded enough to be a personal sanctuary.
The cabin is raised two feet above the river. The steps that lead to the front door are continued on the far side of the cabin floor, leading the eye beyond the small confines of the cabin and towards the mountain vista dominating the landscape.
The design of the shelter is simple in that I wanted all of the glass to face south, have no openings on the north side of the structure (for protection from the prevailing winter winds), and have it not only feel open but also actually be open to the natural surrounding. The front door slides open, which unlike a typical hinged door eliminates any awkwardness while trying to swing open the door while standing on the front step and maximizes interior space by not having it swing in. The glass on the southeast and southwest sides open to completely eliminate the boundary between interior and exterior. And since I love camping and staring at a star-filled night sky I designed the roof of the shelter to open.
The building material for the shelter is concrete, which provides a strong structure but also stores the heat from the sun and releases that heat when it’s cooler at night. The shelter includes most everything I need for a short stint of seclusion – a wood-burning fireplace, a comfortable chair, a handful of books, and a picture of my wife and son.
Simplicity – what should be the driving force behind all small cabins.