Tasked with designing a Colorado campsite with unique views, architect Kevin Hirth produced these dreamlike illustrations depicting a cloud-shaped viewing platform floating amongst the trees.
The client – described by Denver-based Kevin Hirth as eccentric – requested a design that would provide overnight guests with an unprecedented vantage point over her extensive property, which is located in a mountain valley in Gunnison County.
The architect developed a proposal that he feels solves two problems. By creating an elevated plaza, campers will be able to see more of their surroundings, but will also be more protected from native wild animals, which include mountain lions and black bears.
“Overnight guests find refuge and shelter through elevation rather than enclosure,” said Hirth.
“By lifting the sleeping platform into the forest canopy, the overnight camper can sleep freely in the open air and under the night sky without need for shelter from wildlife.”
The platform itself is imagined as a hybrid steel and wood structure with a scalloped underside, reminiscent of a cartoon cloud.
At its centre is a stack of four precast concrete columns, which frame a climbing ladder and also form chimneys for two open fireplaces. This stack will form the main structural anchor for the platform, which will also be supported by the surrounding tree trunks.
“As it floats between the trees of the site, using them for structural support, the platform maintains a contradictory presence in the forest that allows it to appear suspended weightlessly,” explained Hirth.
“As a totem on the hillside, the stack gives guests a means to orient within the valley without obstructing the view of the crest of the hill beyond.”
The “eccentric webbed structure” of the platform will comprise a network of crisscrossing semicircular discs. These will be clad using a canvas typically used for tents, making them fire resistant.
“By electing to maximise structural efficiency between shop-fabricated steel components and site-assembled wood framing, the structure achieves a lightness and flexibility that would be difficult to coordinate with one system alone,” added the architect.
The team is currently seeking financial backing to make the project a reality. If built, it would be able to host up to 20 people for overnight stays and up to 30 people for small events and gatherings.
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