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The Architect Has Left The Building

Until 25 February

An exhibition revolving around a large-scale film installation by renowned photographer and filmmaker, Jim Stephenson, exploring how people use buildings and spaces once the architect‘s work has finished.

‘The life of a building starts when people move into a space and begin to make it their own,’ notes Jim Stephenson. Over the last fifteen years Stephenson has documented a huge range of buildings across the UK. He is typically commissioned by a building’s architect or by architectural journals or magazines to visit a building soon after its completion. This is the fascinating moment when architect who has seen a project through conception, design and construction has departed and the people who will use, live or work in the building have moved in and begun to make it their own.

For this exhibition, Stephenson has brought together footage he has taken of fourteen recently completed buildings from across the country into a single large-scale film installation. In the film we see people sitting, talking, performing, looking, exploring, worshipping, playing and exercising – and much more. Although the buildings themselves – which range from schools, galleries and museums to train stations, a mosque and a community centre – are important, the film celebrates how, to use Stephenson’s words, ‘architecture is a continuous act of improvisation.’

In the gallery before the film are drawings, objects and ephemera relating to the fourteen projects that offer clues as about each building’s design and purpose. The architects, client and location of each building are then revealed, alongside photographs by Stephenson, in the final gallery. Unlike most exhibitions which are fixed and static, following the ethos of Stephenson’s film, visitors of all ages are encouraged to make use of the various activities and resources in the galleries, move things around, and to make the exhibition their own.

Until 25 February


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

When our work is at its best, it shows people using (and misusing) the built environment, but there is always a fine balance to strike when we are making films for someone else with the purpose of documenting a space; yes, our hearts still sing the song of the quiet, expressive, tactile moments that give an impression of atmosphere, and yet, we do believe that the life of a building starts when people move into a space and begin to make it their own.

Produced in collaboration with photographic artist Sofia Kathryn Smith and screened with a multi-speaker sound mix by Simon James, this new film is made from archival material taken from our commissions by architects and magazines over the last few years. Sometimes calm, sometimes energetic, this film is reflective, chaotic, playful, and is intended to invite its audience to spend a moment or two immersed in the act of people watching.

— Jim Stephenson

About the Architects

Find out more about the architectural practices and buildings featured in Jim Stephenson’s film, The Architect Has Left The Building.