King County Parks picks cargo container eco-camping design: economical, comfortable

  • Written by Valley View Staff

A new overnight camping structure to be built from winning design

Artist rendition of an overnight camping structure for park users.
In less than one year’s time, visitors to King County’s Tolt-MacDonald Park will be able to spend the night in a comfortable and ecologically sound camping structure – thanks to the creative vein tapped by King County Parks’ Little Footprint/Big Forest contest.

The challenge given to designers was to create an overnight camping structure from a used cargo shipping container that could be placed in select areas of King County Parks’ 26,000 acres of open space.

The winning design – selected from 12 entries by a panel of judges that included King County Executive Dow Constantine, plus architectural and sustainability experts – was created by the Seattle firm Hybrid Architecture. The announcement was made recently at King County’s Built Green Conference in Issaquah.

“Re-Tain” features an adaptable floor plan complete with queen-sized bunk beds, a table that can be moved outside for more floor space inside, and a multi-purpose mess cabinet made from recycled and reclaimed materials that allows for use from inside and outside the structure.

See the winning design and other entries at

“The contest provided us with an exciting and replicable design, and we hope to install these camping structures at appropriate sites within our open space areas,” said King County Parks Division Director Kevin Brown. “I want to thank the judges for their thoughtful analysis of all the entries.”

Design competition judges said they were impressed with the overall design concepts and the creative approach to the second use of storage containers.

“The designs were responsive to the environment and reflect the Pacific Northwest’s passion for the outdoors,” said competition judge Chris Toher, executive vice president of Skanska USA. “I applaud King County for their progressive approach to finding meaningful reuse for these containers and their continued commitment to our region’s long-term sustainability.”

“King County is home to wonderful parks and outdoor experiences, and the Little Footprint, Big Forest contest shows that we have the creativity to meet the challenge of preserving our environment and adopting sustainable practices,” said judge Andy Wappler, who is the vice president of Corporate Affairs for Puget Sound Energy.

The judges’ panel also featured:

• Stone Gossard – Sustainability advocate and Pearl Jam rhythm guitarist

•  Kevin Brown – division director, King County Parks

•  Art Wolfe – wildlife and landscape photographer

• Eric Corey Freed –principal, organicArchitect

•  Kim Munizza – principal, Mithun

• Aaron Adelstein - executive director, Built Green

• Bill Schwartz  –  manager, Small Projects – Capital Improvement Program, King County Parks

• Amy Hackmann – King County Parks fan

King County Parks is seeking partners to help fund construction and installation of the Re-Tain camping structures. To learn about partnership opportunities, please contact Ryan Dotson at (206) 263-0145.

King County Parks – Your Big Backyard – offers more than 200 parks and 26,000 acres of parks and natural lands, including such regional treasures as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, 175 miles of regional trails and a world-class aquatic center. By cultivating strong relationships with non-profit, corporate and community partners, King County Parks enhances park amenities while reducing costs. Learn more at

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter