Royal Institute of British Architects

Royal Institute of British Architects

London, GB


The Architect Has Left The Building exhibition opens at RIBA

By EE17
Jun 7, '23 12:34 PM EST
The Architect Has Left The Building © Jim Stephenson
The Architect Has Left The Building © Jim Stephenson

The Architect Has Left The Building is the latest exhibition by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), showcasing work by photographer and filmmaker Jim Stephenson.

A dual-screen film installation will reveal how people use the spaces created by architecture, left to their own devices. Buildings are often documented at their point of completion but this exhibition will explore what happens once the architect has returned to their studio and inhabitation has begun. It will draw together the moments of humanity that so often capture Stephenson’s imagination and present them as a series of vignettes examining the multitude of ways that people naturally occupy both the interiors and exteriors of buildings. 

The show has been created in response to the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture, which is ‘In Common’. Displayed as a dual-screen installation, the exhibition will work on different scales to explore the idea and impact of a ‘shared place’ and the contextual detailing that makes them successful. In this form, The Architect Has Left The Building will ask its audience to pause for a moment, and imagine the stories that are unfolding on the screen, while offering an opportunity to reflect and immerse themselves in the vision of the filmmaker, a vision that creates a space for the viewer to engage with a subtle visual connectivity that spans fifteen years of Stephenson’s career. 

The work, edited and sequenced with photographic artist Sofia Kathryn Smith, features a soundscape composed by long-time collaborator Simon James.

A wide range of projects and people are featured in the installation, ranging from schools in Hackney, east London and Berkshire, to galleries and museums stretching from Cornwall to the Lake District. Stirling Prize-winning universities are used to show how the very best architecture in the country can frame daily life, while a community centre in West London reveals the small moments created when different groups use a single building. 

The presentation aims to quietly disrupt the traditionally neat visions of these perhaps familiar buildings often presented to the public, and instead offers a textural, atmospheric experience - a theme that runs throughout much of Stephenson’s work. 

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

Jim Stephenson “During the making of this new film for the exhibition, we took the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the way our work forms part of a narrative that the buildings go through after completion and now we’re asking the audience to do the same. We hope that they’ll enjoy the chance to pause as well, and observe how these spaces are used, misused, what they have in common and what makes them different.”