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Architect has left

The Architect has Left the Building

Published on: 10 October 2023

Farrell Centre exhibition explores the everyday lives of buildings through an audio-visual installation

Pause and imagine

The Farrell Centre has announced its second exhibition, The Architect Has Left The Building, showcasing the work of renowned photographer and filmmaker Jim Stephenson

His work will be displayed as a dual-screen film installation – commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) – that describes how people use buildings and spaces after the architect’s work has finished.

The show was originally staged over the summer at the RIBA and it comes hot on the heels of the centre’s inaugural exhibition: More With Less: Reimagining Architecture for a Changing World. Since opening in April 2023, the Farrell Centre has received over 14,000 visitors, a strong endorsement for its mission of creating a home in Newcastle where everyone can take part in a conversation about the role of architecture and planning in shaping the city’s future.

This latest exhibition furthers the centre’s work and ethos by looking not at how buildings are designed and built but at the myriad ways they are used, occupied and inhabited. The Architect Has Left The Building will ask its audience to pause and imagine the stories that are unfolding on the screen, while offering an opportunity to reflect and immerse themselves in Stephenson’s subtle vision honed over the fifteen years of his career. The work, edited and sequenced with photographic artist Sofia Kathryn Smith, features an immersive soundscape composed by long-time collaborator Simon James.

A wide range of projects and people from all over the country are featured in the film, ranging from schools, galleries and museums to train stations, a mosque and a community centre. Stirling Prize-winning universities show how the very best architecture in the country can frame daily life, creating opportunities for people to engage with the building – and each other – in different ways.

The film aims to quietly disrupt the decontextualized and overly neat visions that so often accompany the presentation of newly completed buildings. Instead, it offers a textural, atmospheric experience – a theme that runs throughout much of Stephenson’s work.

Photograph of The Architect has Left the Building at the Farrell Centre by © Kristen McLCuskie

Inclusive, sustainable and democratic

Photographer and filmmaker Jim Stephenson said: ‘We’re really grateful that our show is going on tour and we’re honoured to be the second ever exhibitors at the Farrell Centre. We’re really pleased to be asked by them because we believe the conversations sparked by the film should be happening all across the UK. We continue to be proud of the work we made and the collaborations that this project inspired – we really think it has a reach beyond the usual architecture bubble. We hope that people enjoy it!’

Farrell Centre director Owen Hopkins said: ‘We are delighted to be partnering with RIBA to bring The Architect Has Left the Building to the Farrell Centre. The exhibition perfectly reflects the centre’s mission of foregrounding how buildings are used, inhabited and understood as a way of helping bringing about a built environment that is more inclusive, sustainable and democratic. We’ve admired Jim Stephenson’s work for a long time and are hugely honoured to re-stage his beautiful, poetic film in the centre’s galleries – fittingly, only a few months after the architects have left our own recently completed building.’

Featured in The Architect Has Left The Building:

  • National Youth Theatre by DSDHA
  • Cambridge Mosque, Marks Barfield
  • Airdraft, Benedetta Rogers and Thomas Randall Page
  • Kingston, Grafton
  • Magdalene Library, Niall McLaughlin
  • Windermere Jetty Museum, Carmody Groarke
  • Horris Hill, Jonathan Tuckey
  • Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Feilden Fowles
  • Tate St Ives, Jamie Fobert
  • Tintagel Bridge, William Matthews
  • London Bridge, Grimshaw
  • Sands End, Mae
  • Brittania Leisure Centre, Faulkner Brown
  • Hackney New School, HenleyHalebrown

The exhibition runs until 25 February 2024.

A programme of events will run alongside the exhibition. 

Farrell Centre, The Sir Terry Farrell Building, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RD

Opening times: Wednesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm Free entry (no booking required)

For more information, email 


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