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The Weston - Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Jim Stephenson

Let the children touch the walls.


Poet and novelist Ben Lerner once asked "since the world is ending / Why not let the children touch the painting?" as the protagonist of his novel, "Leaving the Atocha station" wandered inside the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Even though The Weston in Yorkshire Sculpture Park makes no reference to the Madrilenian museum nor to a forthcoming apocalypse, this lines found its way in my mind as Fergus Feilden, co-founder of the architecture studio Feilden Fowles, described the tactile quality of The Weston, an art gallery, café, and shop, located in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park a 500-acre outdoor art gallery in northern England. Watching the video, one feels the urge and the desire to touch the uneven walls and their textures.

Shot on a rainy day, "Yorkshire Sculpture Park" by Jim Stephenson is a four-minutes visit of the site: in the interview, still with his raincoat on, Fergus Feilden points out how the gallery's design was influenced by the weather conditions and the seasons. "We wanted the building to kind of grow out of the land and we looked at a few land artists who influenced us including Michael Heizer," he says.

Designed to have a minimal impact on its surroundings, The Weston is a simple-looking yet crucial addition to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a new landmark for visiting guests, not in a monumental sense, but more as a direction, a reference point, a place meant to be lived. While Fergus Feilden, who led the works, addresses how "the quarry both influenced the landscape design but also the tones of the walls", telling that "we wanted the building to be a very simple, monolithic, calm structure that creates threshold into the park, and on the other side to have the arc of elevation which embraces the land", Jim Stephenson's video shows us the extent of his affirmations, visually describing how The Weston makes a subtle but strong architectural statement and how the local-sourced materials they used match the landscape (in a sense, the cloudy sky helps us understand the project better, letting us enjoy the natural palette of the site).

"Imagining the building as a piece of land art, rather than architecture in the traditional sense, really influenced how we shot the project," says Jim Stephenson. “Suddenly, these very long views where you only just see the building in the distance became much more important."

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Architect: Feilden Fowles
Mentioned project: The Weston (2019)
Project location: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, England, United Kingdom
Assistant: Daniel Commons
Sound mixing: Simon James

United Kingdom 2019
Duration: 04'48"