Form Follows Design

Camp Arden, the home of Arden Creek Designs, has used cedar railings throughout the camp since its beginning. The use of cedar railings go back to the late eighteen hundreds, the design was simplistic, being more utilitarian in nature than artistic. Camp Arden in 1955, was donated to the Trudeau Institute for the purpose of finding a cure for Tuberculosis., however when the gift was made, a cure had been found and   the camp was not needed and lay dormant The property remained unoccupied for 45 years until the current owners purchased the property in 1991.  45 years of neglect took its toll, restoration was started to bring the historic buildings back to when they were first construction at the turn of the century. Careful attention was given to accuracy in the restoration, yet blending the restoration with utilitarian functionality.

When the camps restoration first began in 1991, the exterior railings were in need of repair.  The railings were constructed in a geometric pattern from logs and branches, in order to maintain the original design any missing or broken pieces were replaced. The repairs lasted for a time, but when the camp’s over all restoration was complete the repaired railings were once again addressed.  The second time around the decision was made to deviate from the original design to that of a more artistic one. Rather than doing the previous geometric spindle pattern, peeled cedar breaches were intertwined in an artistic fashion between the horizontal rails. The end product was beautiful. The railings lasted for over 15 years, however the harsh weather conditions of the Adirondack Mountains caused portions of the railings to deteriorate and replacement was needed.

Redoing the camp's railings would make it the third replacement in the camps history. Upon examination it was noted that large portion were in various stages of repair, from good condition to rotten. The problem with this repair was that the areas that needed to be replaced would require the whole section to be dismantled. Based on past history, even this new railing would have to be replaced at some future date, based on this fact it was decided to design a new railing that allowed just the damaged pieces to be easily replaced. The goal of the new design was to maintain the peeled twig look. The old twig design was complicated; twigs were attached between two horizontal rails. Holes were drilled into the log rails, with the case of larger twigs the ends were scribed to the fit the log rails making them difficult to remove. To eliminate this problem we replaced rail logs with treated milled lumber; by using milled squared lumber the twigs could be squared cut allowing them to be removed where needed by removing two screws. Using 2” x 4” rails both on the top and bottom, twig spindles can be evenly placed on the boards. The assembled unit was then screwed to 6” x 6”milled post, to cover the 2” x 4” top board with the exposed screws a 2” x 6” cap board was installed to finish off the design.

The advantage of this design allows easy removal of damaged pieces allows for convenient painting and staining and maintains the beauty of twig construction. We made the railings functional yet maintained the beauty of the twig design.