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Red Route audio tour

External view of the University Red Route

Red Route is the work of Professor Steve Bottoms from the University of Leeds' Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts & Communications. It is a site-specific performance tour in the form of an audio download, created as an unofficial guide to one of the University's most notable architectural features. The Red Route corridor - allegedly "the longest in Europe" when first built - forms the spine of a complex of brutalist, concrete buildings constructed by the University in the 1960s.

Professor Bottoms' project could not have come to fruition without the wealth of material preserved in the University Archive; in the PDF that accompanies the tour he gratefully acknowledges our archivists' help to uncover sources, found in correspondence files relating to building projects. From our archival documents he has crafted a tragi-comic tale of the Red Route's construction. And, although this is a fictionalisation, all of the quoted text comes directly from the Archive.

Line of Sight, the original version of Red Route, was presented as part of the City of Leeds' Light Night celebrations in 2008. Professor Bottoms has since updated and adapted the piece to the current format of audio download with accompanying images. Steve himself narrates the piece, while the guest voices are provided by staff members from the University's School of English. The revised version was informed by Steve's experiences as part of the AHRC research network project "Reflecting on Environmental Change through Site-Based Performance" in 2010-11.

When the piece was performed live, spectators were steadily led along the Red Route. As the story unfolded, events were illustrated by the projection of architectural drawings from the Archive onto the corridor's walls. "The light at the end of the tunnel", a video installation by visual artist Claire Blundell Jones, played out on the end wall of the EC Stoner Building, marking the place where construction was prematurely aborted due to funding restrictions.

Now, with the publication of the new audio download, you can take this fascinating tour at your leisure. The PDF accompaniment contains a map which indicates the starting point.

Download the Red Route audio tour (MP3)
Download the Red Route tour accompanying images (PDF)

Explore the University Archive