Category Design for Outdoor Recreation

Log construction

This type can range from the primitive pioneer-type cabin made of rough logs to more sophisticated versions where the logs are machined to fit together snugly and present a more finished and weatherproofed result. The rustic, primitive varieties will fit better into more remote, forested locations.

Logs can also be laid horizontally on top of one another, overlapping the ends of logs for stability, and intersected at the corners. This type of construction leads to a particular kind of structure with a horizontal emphasis, coarse texture and prominent corners formed by the intersections. They tend to have low-pitched roofs with wide overhangs, which cast deep shadows and help the cabin to hug the ground.

Because of its prominence the roof finish is often the most critical part of the design...


Site layout

Where several cabins are to be built as part of a commercial venture, where they are rented to people on holiday or vacation, their siting becomes more complex. A comprehensive site layout plan is needed. As with campgrounds, the cabins should normally be dispersed around the site and accessed from one or more loop roads. Short spurs can be made to a parking area next to the cabin, or small parking clusters can be provided from which paths lead to several cabins. This is convenient for services to minimize pipe runs for water, sewage and the number of septic tanks required. Electricity transmission lines should be underground wherever feasible.

In more open sites scattered cabins can look chaotic, so a layout clustering them can resolve this problem...


Cabin sites

The next type of overnight accommodation to be considered is the cabin or chalet. Their layout and design should combine some of the elements of the various buildings so far discussed in this book together with many aspects related to campground design. This section will concentrate on the position and layout of a site, and the external form and design of cabins, rather than the internal design and detailed architectural aspects of construction.


Whether one cabin or a series of cabins is built their position in the landscape is of prime importance. occupier of a cabin is likely to expect a view out to the landscape. The wild and scenic qualities of the site may depend on the perceived lack of human intrusion, which the sight of groups of buildings might compromise...


Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

In order to demonstrate some of the design concepts and principles described above it is useful to look at a recent example. Like so much recreation design in recent times it involves major refurbishment and reconstruction rather than a completely new development.

Lost Lake Campground started life a long time ago in 1916. Prior to road access in the early 1920s, people took a train to the village of Dee, and then hiked 13 miles (21km) into Lost Lake. In those days



Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

A design for campsite utilities such as fire equipment, water, litter, grey water and chemical toilet disposal arranged into a neat enclosure provided with a lay-by and surfaced access. Trees and shrubs help to screen it, although the tidy design would also work in open sites.


people some...


Access for people with disabilities

Like other forms of recreation, as many camping areas as possible should be designed to be barrier free and offer universal access. This is easy on flatter sites, where tent pitches or trailer-parking areas can be on the same level as the paths, picnic tables, fires and other facilities. On more sloping sites a proportion of pitches should be levelled and have access paths that conform to the gradient requirement described in Chapter 9. A choice of experience should be offered, from the wildest to the most well equipped, just like any other site. Parking spurs usually need more space around them to facilitate the manoeuvring of special equipment.

Other buildings

As well as the requirements for services described above there may be other buildings needed on the campsite, such as entrance st...


Design of campsite utilities

Fire equipment, disposal points for water, chemicals and rubbish, maps of spur and numbering layout, phones, bulletin boards and other signs and artefacts are usually needed. All of this can be unsightly if not designed to look simple, unified and in keeping with the setting. The sites for such artefacts should be chosen where they can be tied into the landscape. A clump of trees, a wall, a dense area of shrubs or a rocky bank can all provide suitable backgrounds. A fence or enclosing structure can help to integrate and screen many of the more unsightly facilities, while access to them is maintained.

Design of campsite utilities

Design of campsite utilities

A series of camping spur layout designs: (a) General dimensions and road geometry for parking at a camping spur (left-hand drive vehicles.) (b) A design for level ground...


Camping shelters

Instead of tents, wooded sites can be equipped with open-fronted camping shelters. These are constructed from timber with asymmetrically pitched roofs. They have a wooden floor, and are raised off the ground. In front of the open side is placed the campfire. In the USA these are often called ‘Adirondack’ shelters after their origins in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.

Spur sites for trailer caravans/camper

This layout is similar to that for tent spurs accessed by car, except that the spur has to be longer to accommodate the larger vehicle combinations, but adjoining space does not have to be so large or so flat...


Loop road

The tent area is accessed by car from a loop road. Each pitch is provided with a parking spur. Next to this is a tent area, a picnic table and a fireplace. In the most primitive type the pitch can be an open space, a little distance from the car, cleared of stumps and stones, and with a grassy surface. Logs can be
provided as simple benches, and a circle of boulders for a hearth. A slightly more improved variety can be given a better surface, nearer to the car, with a hearth equipped with a grill or kettle hook and a sturdy bench. A further upgrade could have special pitches of level, smooth surface provided with a steel hoop fireplace or a steel altar fire and a picnic table. Toilets, showers, water and rubbish disposal will be concentrated at a focal point of one or more loops.

Central pa...


Open sites for trailer caravans/tent-trailer. s/R Vs

The sites should be laid out so that access roads in the form of loops have pitches set alongside them num bered with marker posts. The trailers or RVs are then reversed onto the grass at right angles or obliquely to the road at set distances. Where required, the area can be subdivided by trees and shrubs to create smaller spaces and to allow some small clusters of family groups to establish themselves.

One advantage of an open layout in Europe and Britain is that it can more easily cater for cars and trailer caravans, whose doors open on different sides depending on whether the vehicle is driven on the
right or left-hand side of the road...


Open sites for tents

The ground needs to be level, reasonably smooth and with a good dense grassy sward. The soil should be freely draining, relatively easy to drive tent pegs into, and unlikely to stay wet or become muddy. Noise insulation is non-existent in tents, so some physical separation between pitches is desirable. Unless tent
pitches are marked in some way, such as by a numbered post, or each place has its own fireplace or hearth, a practical way is to let people choose their own site. They will probably tend to select the widely spaced locations first and fill in until the space seems as full as it can be given the need for private space. Dividing the space up with irregularly shaped shrubs or trees will create more private feeling pitches for a given area.

Fireplaces of the circular ‘campfire’ variet...