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The Architect has Left the Building

Black and white photograph of two adults sitting at a picnic table facing Lake Windermere at the Windermere Jetty Museum

The Architect has Left the Building

Opening 3 June 2023 and running until 12 August 2023

The Architect has Left the Building

RIBA’s summer exhibition presents 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 RIBA as a response to this year’s London Festival of Architecture theme, In Common, the installation 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 in the Architecture Gallery. 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.

66 Portland Place, London usual opening times

Monday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm

Tuesday: 10am to 8pm

Sunday: Closed  

Banner image: Windermere Jetty Museum - Carmody Groarke © Jim Stephenson

Adults walking around a tall white gallery with colourful abstract paintings on the walls
Tate St. Ives - Jamie Fobert Architects © Jim Stephenson

Eschewing a more traditional study of the output created by the architect’s studio during the design process, the installation will instead celebrate 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. 

Parents sitting on a low bench in front of a brick wall waiting to pick their children up from school - Kingsland
Hackney New Primary School + 333 Kingsland Road - Henley Halebrown © Jim Stephenson

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.

Group of students and ballet dancers sitting on bleachers in a well lit room
Kingston Town House - Grafton Architects © Jim Stephenson

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