University Students Develop New Park Model
Students at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, have developed a new cabin design that has garnered the attention of California State Parks officials as well as Cavco Industries Inc., one of the nation’s top producer of campground cabins.
According to a press release, the new cabin concept, called The Wedge, is so unique that Cavco agreed to build a prototype unit using the students’ designs and to transport it to Sacramento, where it will be featured at the California State Fair in Sacramento on July 11 to 27.
“We think The Wedge has a very innovative design that will capture people’s attention and stimulate their interest in cabins and in cabin camping,”said Tim Gage, Cavco’s national vice president of park models, cabins and specialty products for Cavco, which designs and builds fully furnished cabins for campgrounds across the country. “California State Parks officials are very interested in The Wedge.”
Unlike traditional cabins, The Wedge has a roof that sits at an almost perfect 90-degree angle. It also incorporates various materials, including Western red cedar vertical siding, a composite porch deck and an ACX plywood interior for a more modern look. The small footprint cabin has a spacious porch as well as an inside area with a built in full-size bed and twin bunk beds as well as custom made seating.
CalPoly students hope state parks will embrace The Wedge and market it as a new rental accommodation.
“Our students have come up with a design that could stimulate increase in cabin camping in public parks,”said Juintow Lin, an associate professor of architecture at CalPoly Pomona.
The students, she added, have been working with independent Parks Forward Commission, which has been tasked with creating proposals to address financial, operational and cultural issues facing the Department of Parks and Recreation. Commission co-Chairman Lance Conn particularly wanted the panel to look at recreating the traditional cabin as a way to attract minorities and non-traditional campers to State Parks.
CalPoly College of Environmental Design Dean Michael Woo also serves on the Parks Forward Commission, and was asked to have CalPoly’s architecture students take the lead in designing the cabin in an effort to jumpstart interest among groups that are not typical campers.
“Our students frequently get to use their imaginations to solve design problems,”Woo says. “With this project, our students are not only using their imaginations, but also are making something which will change the way Californians perceive and use the great outdoors.”
Lin said her students designed more than 10 distinctively different cabins that had to meet certain conditions such as size, portability and a tight budget. The Wedge was ultimately presented to Cavco for construction.
At least one model that the students worked on is expected to be placed in a state park, but CalPoly students and Parks Forward Commission officials hope is that it will prove so popular it will become the new standard for what camping looks like in California.
“These are designed with the intention of being very real structures eventually,”student Kevin Easterling said. “It’s on its way.”
This opportunity was provided to the architecture students in the fallout from the 2011 state budget crisis that included a threat of 70 parks being shuttered. The parks survived but it was learned later that the possibility of the closures was partly the result of senior officials in the state Department of Parks and Recreation hiding $54 million in two special funds. Park attendance has also dropped in recent years.
The independent Parks Forward Commission was tasked to create proposals to address financial, operational and cultural issues facing the Department of Parks and Recreation.