The Architect Has Left The Building

Wed – Sun, 10am – 5pm

Farrell Centre

An exhibition built around a dual-screen film installation, weaving together moments of architectural joy and intimacy drawn from the professional archives of renowned photographer and filmmaker Jim Stephenson.

Commissioned by the RIBA where it was on show in summer 2023, the film offers a series of cinematic vignettes that subtly document the ways that people use architecture when left to their own devices. Featuring recent projects by Grafton Architects, Henley Halebrown, Carmody Groarke, Jamie Fobert Architects and others, the films engage at different scales to quietly disrupt the traditionally ‘neat’ visions of these perhaps already familiar buildings, as usually presented to the public.

The Architect Has Left The Building has been edited and sequenced with photographic artist Sofia Kathryn Smith, and features a spatial soundscape composed by long time collaborator Simon James, creating a unique textural and atmospheric cinematic experience. The work asks the audience to pause for a moment, and to imagine the stories behind the scenes unfolding in front of them, while immersing themselves in the vision of the filmmaker, a vision that allows the viewer to engage with a subtle visual connectivity that spans fifteen years of Stephenson’s career.

Eschewing a more traditional study of the output created by the architect’s studio during the design process, the installation instead celebrates the everyday reality of the featured projects. Featuring an eclectic range of users from Cornwall to Cumbria via Kingston upon Thames and Cambridge, the work brings together musicians, commuters, students, tourists, art lovers and more, capturing the creativity, conversations, performance and pauses that the buildings have facilitated.

Within the field of architectural representation, the medium of film is uniquely placed to narrate the lives of buildings, capturing spatial generosity and material detailing alongside the myriad of human activities that take place within. By witnessing the buildings ‘as found’, The Architect Has Left The Building encourages a closer look at some of the lesser documented moments of each scheme, creating a temporal study in post-occupancy that might signify the criteria for labelling the architecture as a success.

‘The life of a building starts when people move into a space and begin to make it their own’ —Jim Stephenson.

The Sir Terry Farrell Building Eldon Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RD

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6 October 2023—25 February 2024


  • Wed 10am – 5pm
  • Thu 10am – 5pm
  • Fri 10am – 5pm
  • Sat 10am – 5pm
  • Sun 10am – 5pm
  • Level access
  • Lifts to all areas
  • Hearing loop
  • Accessible toilets
  • Baby changing facilities
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