• Michael Webb: Two Journeys
    Michael Webb
    Ashley Simone
    Kenneth Frampton, Michael Sorkin, Mark Wigley, and Lebbeus Woods
    Lars Müller Publishers, 2018
    Michael Webb

Rent-A-Wall, Archigram 7, 1966. Courtesy of Michael Webb.

The first journey in this eponymous project uses the regatta course at Henley-on-Thames in England as a test bed for studying the mathematics of perspective projection. The necessarily imagined journey here has as its starting point the location of the Observer and the Vanishing Point as its destination. Due to the rapid acceleration away from the Observer, vast and distorted structures suggest themselves. In the second journey, the more specific relationship between the home and the automobile is explored. This journey by automobile to, and the arrival at, a house which is literally driven into, pleads for a new and less wasteful interrelationship between cars and buildings. It dares to suggest, paradoxically, that to further develop the concept of the drive-in house might provide the key to reducing the grim wastelands of parking and sprawl that characterizes current exurban planning.

Michael Webb was born in Henley on Thames, England, in 1937. He studied architecture at the (then) Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture in London. A project he designed during his fourth year at the Polytechnic was included in an exhibition at MoMA, Visionary Architecture, in 1961. The following year his thesis project for an Entertainments Center in London was widely published, and was featured in November 2009 at the First Projects exhibition at the Architectural Association in London. He was a founding member of Archigram, named for the magazine the group published. The Archigram members, often called the “Beatles of Architecture,” rebelled against what they saw as the failure of the architectural establishment in Britain to produce building reflecting the dynamic changes, both technological and social, the country was then undergoing. For the last seventeen years, a large exhibition of the group's work has been touring world capitals; in 2006, the group was awarded the Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Webb emigrated to the United States in 1965; he sees his raison d'etre as deriving from the drawings he has produced over the years, among these: the Temple Island Study, which resulted in an eponymous book published by the AA in 1987, and the Drive-in House series. He has had solo shows at the Cooper Union, where he now teaches; Columbia University; the Storefront for Art and Architecture (NY); the Architecture League (NY); the University of Manitoba at Winnipeg; and the Art Net Gallery (London). He was a fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal in 2010 and 2011.