|Photo by Mikkel Stromstad|
Written by Alyce Packard, BID Candidate
When I first learned I was going to see Marilyn Moedinger speak, I was really intimidated. Luckily I got my hands on her book, 103E-75W Adventures in the Vernacular: Investigative Observations of Residential Climate Mediation, beforehand and got a little sneak peek into what she was all about. The book was very helpful and easy to understand, it seemed to be evenly balanced with text and pictures. The pictures were stunning, the graphs and diagrams were very effective, but the photos she took on her trip seemed almost unreal.
|Cover of Marilyn's book|
|Photo from Marilyn's book showing the line of longitude she followed.|
As designers, we have to interact with the world in a responsible way. We're not just historians writing and observing, we have to actually exist in the physical world. For her process, Marilyn did a lot of drawing in the field and she used different instruments like a pedometer and a thermometer. She's clever and innovative; she said that one day when one of her devices broke, she had no way to document the ventilation of the huts she was staying in. She then noticed that a lot of people smoked indoors so she watched what happened to the smoke and recorded that.
|Example of a typical ger, taken from http://www.bluepeak.net/mongolia/ger.html.|
While traveling, she discovered many different types of buildings. Among them were the gers, but there were also Asian shop houses, and board houses in Jamaica. They were all built a certain way for a reason. In Jamaica she also visited several shops and restaurants that built their houses from shipping containers. They modified the shipping containers to fit their needs as the years went on. These people have the right idea, modifying and operating their homes so that they work with the climate. If we're going to shelter ourselves, shouldn't we delight in the result, and shouldn't our shelter work with our climate?
Marilyn is also a teacher. When she went out on this journey, she thought she would find strategies and methods. What really happened was much different; she came up with different questions like: How do you ask questions? What’s the real problem you're trying to solve? How are you going to go about it? She tells her students, and herself, that you must trust in the process to uncover these things. The question she’s working on now is How can she teach her students all that she's learned, without sending them each all around the world?