Architecture: Our Third Skin
This illustrated talk is based on an approach to architecture that considers our bodies as being enveloped in a series of expanding enclosures. Just as skin defines and protects the body, clothing and architecture - although different in their materiality and scale - perform similar functions. This three-layered progression of skin/clothing/shelter, which can best be seen in primeval and nomadic architecture, gives rise to various architectural theories. Best known is Gottfried Semper's concept of architecture as clothing. His Bekleidungstheorie traces the essence of architectural enclosure back to woven textile; it holds true, no matter how sophisticated construction materials offered by newest technologies may be.
Expressions commonly used in architectural discourse, such as structural skeleton, glass skin or curtain wall, point to numerous metaphoric connections that exist between layered, ever-expanding enclosures surrounding our bodies. Using this way of looking at architecture, a number of buildings from Basel, the rest of Switzerland and other countries will be discussed. This talk will also illustrate some current practices in architectural and fashion design that seem to inform and creatively influence each other. Finally, an overview of new technologies and applications that may extend the skin-based metaphor in the future will be presented.
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