The Lost Book of Alexandria

The Premise:


A curious old book has been found during recent renovations at Temple Works Leeds. The relic has an eerie aura about and being in its presence causes strange visions and hallucinations. Historians have confirmed the book’s origins in ancient Egypt and are waiting to substantiate whether it has survived the tragic demise of the Library of Alexandria. Moreover, clairvoyants speculate that the book’s effects on people may have something to do with the Curse of the Pharaohs…


The Beginning of the Experience:

Imagine passing the Egyptian columns of Temple Works, entering the counting house and finding yourself in a magnificent but mysteriously lit chamber. In the middle of the room, on an ornate table lies The Book. A raspy voice emanating from the splendid old book beckons you to open it. And as you do, a spirit escapes like a genie from a lamp (or a curse from a Pandora’s box). The lights of the spirit burst across the room like a bird released from a cage. As the spirit whizzes across the chamber it illuminates the curious objects and ornate features of the room. It settles on the bust of Nefertiti and suddenly the Egyptian queen opens her eyes and starts talking to you…


Overview of the Project:


With this project we want to create a fully immersive, large 360 projection mapped room inside the Counting House in which the room’s architectural features, interiors and furnishings come to life through projections and automations triggered by the turning of the pages of a book.

A group of 10 to 15 people at a time will experience an interactive 30 min audio visual show in which their actions will drive the story forward. The projected animations will be a mixture of pre-recorded mapped content and live feeds from a hidden actor using facial capture. The interior design of the room will be a theatrical set based on Victorian libraries, colonial collector’s display rooms and a Egyptian cabinet of curiosities.

We believe that we could create an experience that can run every day for several months, opening  during Halloween 2023.


Visual Ideas: 

The theatrical interior of the chamber inside the counting house will be carefully designed to allow for a series of visual ‘tricks’ to take place. These 'tricks' will be used to literally bring the space to live:

Portraits on the walls will come to life; interior walls will morph into an Egyptian tomb whose walls begin to crumble; wallpaper patterns start to warp, change and animate to create a psychedelic story; patterns on the carpet morph into bottomless pits, busts open their eyes and begin to chat to the audience, shadows without bodies appear along the room’s walls; chandeliers start to chime and scintillate, a piano starts to play itself; books fall out of book shelves; a secret door opens but nobody enters, ghostly characters appear as holograms floating in the air, exotic orchids luminesce like northern lights; architectural stucco starts to dance; the room catches fire etc.

Narrative Ideas:

We want the experience to be beautifully unsettling and entertaining but also meaningful, thought provoking and relevant to Holbeck and the history of Temple Works. We’d therefore like to create a completely fictional story which is inspired by and creatively comments on local historical, contemporary and future events.

Below are possible narrative themes which (once narrowed down) we will explore in conjunction with local people and the British Library's archives:

Global mythology: genie in a bottle, pandora’s box, Curse of the Pharaohs, demise of the Library of Alexandria, Egyptian mythology


Local mythology: Holbeck residents’ personal ghost stories and paranormal sightings, local myths and folklore, different cultures and traditions that have moved in and shaped Holbeck (what are their stories and what is their relationship to spirits/the afterlife


Local history: the history of Temple Works, the future of Temple Works as part of the British Library, the life of John Marshall, workers’ lives at the mill, Temple Works' relevance to Holbeck and Leeds 


Global history: Egyptian history, Temple of Horus, British colonialism and industrialism19th century British factory works and BC Egyptian slaves, pharaohs and industrialists, cultural appropriation


Egyptian Library of Alexandria.                                                                                   Victorian Temple Works 

Next Steps:

  • site visit to Counting House to take measurements, photogrammetry scans and discuss interior design restrictions relating to grade 1 listing

  • discuss, narrow down and research narrative themes with Leeds 2023 and British Library

  • develop a preliminary story outline/synopsis for the experience

  • create a mood board for the aesthetics of the experience 

  • research facial capture technologies

  • research 360 degrees video mapping technologies and equipment

  • budget for a long term immersive installation for 10-15 people lasting 30min

  • create a list of production milestones and dates

  • create a list of potential creative team members and production partners