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Sleek, slanted-roof cabin wants to woo new generation of California campers
Debuting at the California State Fair, The Wedge is a student-design state park shanty that blends rustic simplicity with a more modern, Millennial-friendly aesthetic.
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 07:00 PM
Students designed The Wedge to lure non-traditional campers to California parks. (Images: Cal Poly Pomona)
When not distracted by pie-eating contests, livestock competitions, tractor pulls, highly caloric culinary delights
( hot dog-stuffed deep-fried Twinkie, anyone?) and gratuitous displays of poor oral hygiene on the midway, attendees at this year’s California State Fair in Sacramento were treated to a glimpse of a compact show-cabin with a distinctive slanted roof and plenty of style to spare.
Dubbed The Wedge, the charming little prefab cabin prototype — now on display in the Wilderness Ridge section of the Los Angeles County Fair after making its grand debut in Sacramento — was conceived by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the independent Parks Forward Commission
in an attempt to lure "non-traditional campers" to California's 280 state parks.
In other words, it's a cabin geared toward style-conscious Millennials who don’t do tents and might otherwise shy away from the a-little-too-rustic cabins available for overnight stays in a handful of units throughout the California State Park system. It's a state park cabin for the cool kids.
With a petite footprint of 145-square-feet, The Wedge was just one of 10 cabins designed by architecture students at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona as part of the Parks Forward initiative's Revamp the Camp
project. (Michael Woo, Dean of Cal Poly Pomona's College of Environmental Design, is also also a member of the Parks Forward Commission.)
The quarter-long studio project challenged graduate students to design an "inventive, low-cost, eco-friendly alternative to traditional lodging" that addresses issues of "culture, sustainability, mobility, and construction" while appealing to a younger and more diverse range of park users (overnight campers at California's state parks are overwhelming white and born prior to the advent of MTV).
"What we’re really trying to do is a remix of the architecture and culture of camping," explains
Laida Aguirre who worked alongside Associate Architecture Professor Juintow Lin and 11 fellow students on the project.
Those expecting a high-end glamping experience shouldn’t get their hopes up, however. Despite its striking good looks, this habitable lean-to of sorts is still very much a primitive shelter (no running water or electricity, kiddos) — a pared-down crash pad-in-the-woods and not a fully equipped party shack complete with charging stations and mini-fridge. Although attractive, The Wedge isn't so flashy in that it distracts from the very reason why folks flock to state parks in the first place: to romp in the great outdoors.
Elaborates Lance Conn, co-chairman of the Parks Forward Commission, to the Associated Press
: "This is one step above sleeping on the ground. It's rustic. It's got a door. It's clean and comfortable, but not the Four Seasons."
Sporting Western red cedar siding, a spacious covered porch, custom furniture, an exposed plywood interior, and clerestory windows in addition to its eye-catching angled roof, The Wedge was designed to be easily transportable with a flexible layout that can be expanded and tweaked if need be. The prototype unit, built by the park cabin specialists at Phoenix-based Cavco
, can comfortably sleep a quartet of happy campers with its built-in full size bed and twin bunk bed. There's also ample storage space for gear-stashing.
Whether or not The Wedge — or the three other Revamp the Camp finalists whittled down from the 10 initial designs — will be replicated and find their way to a California camp site near you depends on a full go-ahead from California State Parks and funding from private lenders. Conn anticipates that each cabin will cost in the ballpark of $20,000 to build and install. A charge of $50 or $75 per night would help to pay off the roughly $10 million price tag attached to the mass production of 500 cabins.
Regardless of what happens during the sure-to-be-drawn out approval/funding process, The Wedge prototype's next home will reportedly will be a yet-to-be-announced state park after its run at the LA County Fair in Pomona.
Active and potential California state park-goers: would you be more inclined to visit (read: camp overnight) in a state park if it didn't involve investing in a bunch of expensive gear and if the accommodations were a touch more sophisticated than the existing options?
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