Michael Spider Webb, a visionary architect and founding member of Archigram
Since the early days of the Modern Movement in architecture, the essential task of the avant-garde has been the discovery of a new basis for architecture, one cleansed of the corruptions that culture induces in the art. It is a story Webb is not innocent of, the has succeeded in placing himself above its machinations. "I am a child of my times,," Nietzsche said, "that is a decadent. But I resisted it."
Michael Webb Two Journeys
Michael Webb was born in Henley-on-Thames, England, in 1937. He studied architecture intermittently at the then Regent Street Polytechnic School of Architecture (now the University of Westminster) between the years 1953 and 1972; a somewhat lengthy student career. A project he designed during his fourth year at the Polytechnic found its way, owing to a curious set of circumstances, into an exhibition at MOMA New York entitled ‘Visionary Architecture’ in 1960. The following year his thesis project for an entertainments center in the middle of London was repeatedly failed at the Poly; nevertheless it became widely published, and was featured in November 2009 at the ‘First Projects’ exhibition at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.
In 1961, he was invited by Peter Cook to be part of an assortment of young architects who referred to themselves as the Archigram group, publishing a magazine with the same title. The group rebelled against what it saw as the failure of the architectural establishment in Britain to produce buildings reflecting the dynamic changes, both technological and social, the country was then undergoing. For the last twenty six years a large exhibition of the group’s work has been touring world capitals; and in 2006 Archigram was awarded the Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
He emigrated to the USA in 1965. He sees his raison d'etre as deriving from the drawings he has produced over the years: among these being the Temple Island Study, which resulted in an eponymously titled book published by the AA in 1987; and the Drive-in House series. A monograph entitled ‘Two Journeys’ is shortly to be published. His writing has appeared many times in Architectural Design magazine, Daidalos and in the Journal of Architectural Education.
He has had one man shows at the Cooper Union, Columbia University, the Storefront Gallery in NY, the Architecture League in NY, the University of Manitoba at Winnipeg and the Art Net Gallery in London. He was a fellow at the CCA in Montreal in 2010 and 11 and has been honored with grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
He has taught design studios and drawing at Virginia Tech, the Rhode Island School of Design, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute and the Cooper Union, where he occupied the Charles Gwathmey chair.
By Peter Cook • October 19, 2018
The Architects Newspaper
Michael Webb is a virtuoso English architect, inventor, and artist who was a member of Archigram in London before emigrating to the United States in the late 1960s. Continuing his link with the group and his inventive investigations, he survives by teaching in architecture schools. Yet baldly stated, these facts hardly prepare one for the extraordinary document that is Two Journeys, his latest book. More