Poly Canyon - Experimental Structures Lab – San Luis Obispo, California - Atlas Obscura

Poly Canyon - Experimental Structures Lab

A deserted hodgepodge of experimental structures designed by nearby university students. 


In the hills above California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, there’s a nine-acre collection of eclectic, experimental structures. It looks like an abandoned mishmash of unconventional architecture.

The site is an “outdoor experimental construction laboratory” for the university students. The structures were all built by architectural, engineering, and design students over the last several decades. They range from sculptures to semi-houses, but most of the structures fall somewhere in between.

The canyon is also home to the annual Design Village, which invites students to design and build temporary structures centered around a set theme. Participants then spend the weekend sleeping in their oddball abodes. 

Sadly, the collection has fallen into a bit of disrepair. Student caretakers no longer live on the site. As a result of their absence, vandals have tagged some of the structures, and others have had their windows boarded up.

Know Before You Go

Park on campus near Poly Canyon Road. On weekdays you will have to buy a parking permit for $5, on weekends free parking can be found. Walk the dirt Poly Canyon road for about a mile, until you see the stone arch to your left.

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