We can rarely predict from whence our 15 minutes of fame will arise, and I certainly did not expect Alaska Airlines inflight magazine would be featuring my greywater work. But I’m glad to get even a few small words out about greywater and ecological design to thousands of captive passengers at 30,000 feet. I am interviewed, albeit briefly, in an article about the design/build philosophy that features many great folks from the Yestermorrow community, including Matt Wolpe of Just Fine Design/Build, whose creativity, productivity, and social engagement totally inspires me.
My part of the article, authored by Joe Follansbee, goes something like this:
While conventional architects or builders may walk a site several times and figure out a way to shape the site to the context, some design-build advocates will study the site’s ecology, including the flow of water in and around the site, and the microclimates created by climate and vegetation.
That’s the attitude of Malena Marvin, an outdoor educator and consultant who also designs gray water systems in Ashland, Oregon. “Gray water” is used water from sinks, showers, and baths that is clean enough for other purposes, primarily irrigation.
Marvin advocates for a detailed analysis of the site, down to the soil type and climate patterns. Ideally, a good structural design has little impact on the environment, and may even enhance local natural processes.
Furthermore, Marvin argues that architects should spend as much time as possible outdoors. “We need people who are ecologically fluent, which has to be learned outside,” she says.