Michael Spider Webb, a visionary architect and founding member of Archigram
Consider a man sitting in his car while parked in the garage. He is insulated (i.e. made an island of) by a series of concentric skins, each of which has specific properties. First, his own epidermis, goose bump free thanks to a layer of underwear. Next, a shirt and three-piece suit, soft and flexible enough to allow him to move with ease, topped off with an overcoat. Then, the rigid and shiny pressed-metal skin of the car; lastly the layers of which the garage roof is constructed: felt, plywood and maybe tile.
The fact that the essential materiality of these diverse skins differs so much, one from the other, tends to suppress the realization that each plays a role in insulating the man. Imagine, however, that this man is wearing a medieval suit of armor and about to drive to a costume party (Eng.: fancy dress party), and that the garage is untypically constructed of pressed metal, rather like the Future System's Press Box at Lord's cricket ground in London. The service, then, performed by these concentrically arranged skins for our knight errant, and their insulative efficiency, might
become more apparent.
Whether an insulating skin is a suit or a room depends on the distance of the skin in question from the body. If the skins are close to the body—either form hugging or baggy—we call it fashion. If comparatively far from the body, we call it architecture. This might be a way of understanding Lucy Orta’s bizarre design for a tent: here the skin is both distant (room) and near (skin). In her book entitled “Refuge Wear” 1 , four writers contributed learned articles. Paul Virilio, one of the four, writes, “Underwear, the clothes themselves, the overcoat.
We could continue this onion skin approach by saying that next comes the sleeping bag then the tent.”