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Ryan Ives and Delia Kulukundis built the Mountainside Common Table for Mountainside Senior Living, an assisted living community in Crozet, VA. The design involved negotiating available salvaged material with compatible joints in order to provide an accessible and welcoming table to residents, many of whom use wheelchairs.

Site – The site was a beautiful back garden patio designed, planted, and maintained by MSL resident Mrs. Joan Marshall.
The true potential was limited, however,  by the lack of wheelchair accessible tables. All of the tables were standard picnic tables, which are impossible to use with a wheelchair.

Early Explorations – Amongst the materials recovered during the Wood Flows Research process were pieces of rough sawn lumber with “shake: grain separation due to changes in temperature or humidity causing loss of strength.” The initial idea was to cut tiles for the tabletop. Surprisingly, these tiles warped in unpredictable ways. An attempt was made to recreate a wood kiln by drying the tiles in a car on a sunny day. There was no good way to join these tiles, so they were not used.

Materials – A common design strategy is to first establish a form and then designate materials. In this studio, we needed to design forms in tandem with very specific salvaged materials. Through a contact with a local builder, the team collected some beautiful heart pine from a renovation project. The timber was over 100 years old and gladly given by the site contractor. Careful selection and nail removal was required.

Prototyping – Sketches, full scale prototype joints, and scale models helped to establish a form that uses the given salvaged material to its best potential.

Joints – Given the salvaged heart pine, the joints were crucial to the construction of this table. After rigorously studying potential ones, it was decided to use bridle joints, mortise and tenon, and butterfly joints. The bridle joints allow the table legs to hold up the cross pieces. The cross pieces are stabilized by one additional cross piece using the mortise and tenon. The walnut butterfly joints on the table surface speak to the idea of joining smaller salvaged pieces into larger usable pieces.

From our Skype conversation with Lionel Devlieger during our final review:

Lionel: “It has a rusticity that reminds me of the American pioneers.”

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