Research and Creative Work

In the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado Denver, students and faculty engage directly with our vibrant city, dynamic community, and magnificent landscape by working on real projects that make a real difference. 

Redsand Cabins – Sunrise & Sunset 2014

Date: 8/8/2016
Others Involved: DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah: Jose Galarza Director, DesignBuildBLUFF Hiroko Yamamoto, Associate Instructor Atsushi Yamamoto, Associate Instructor Structural Engineer: Andy Paddock, PE Student Researchers: Becca Barenblat Lauren Cooper Cam Tu Dang Linh Dam Seth Donnell Arron Elmore Pipsa Happo Matt Krick Johnny Mathews Dan Mitchell Kathryn Mullinax Ryan Nickolas Zane Levin Sam Palmer Roshan Jason Patel Robin Scher Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld

in collaboration with DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah

The Mexican Water Chapter of the Navajo Nation partnered with the University of Colorado Denver and the Design Build BLUFF program to design and build two rentable cabins to bolster the local tourism industry. Influenced by the landscape and distant views of the Blue Mountains and Monument Valley, the programmatic design and materiality led to the development of two “sibling” cubes. One rests on the landscape while the other emerges from it. Each cabin establishes its own identity while simultaneously evoking the same language together.

The orientations of the Sunrise and Sunset Cabins were influenced by the Navajo tradition of eastern entry. While entering the Sunset Cabin requires a journey through the patio first, the journey of the Sunrise Cabin is through the building and out toward the cantilevered patio. Both patios, located on the northern side of the cabins, provide shade in the summer and are clad in reclaimed barn wood. In order to diversify the sleeping arrangement possibilities between the two 300 square foot spaces, the Sunrise Cabin includes a two-person sunken bed platform and the Sunset Cabin, with a bed, loft, and futon, can sleep up to six visitors.

Beauty and craft can be seen in the treatment of interior and exterior finishes. Concrete floors, sinks, and counters contrast the reclaimed barn wood on the interior walls and bedrooms while the weathered steel exterior resembles the red sand of the landscape. Apertures in both cabins frame views of the surrounding natural environment: the sand, mountains, and sky. Additionally, the carefully placed windows, skylight, and electrical lighting fill the spaces with soft light to emphasize materiality.

Redsand Cabins win the 2015 AIA Colorado YAAG Built Project of the Year

College of Architecture and Planning

CU Denver

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1250 14th Street


Denver, CO 80202


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