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08/17/2013 / katiemcgivney

Harris Flights: Interview with architect Charlie MacKeith Part 2

Part two of an interview with Charlie MacKeith, architect at Research Design about the Harris Flights installation, 17th August – 15th September 2013

On the nature of the Harris Flights project MacKeith commented ‘it is turning out to be a structure that is inviting a variety of responses, there is no one method of performance or presentation’

On the conception of a performance space for the Harris Flights, Mackeith noted that the intention was to have a “staircase that could be used for performance, and that performance could be people sitting having lunch or running up and down it” noting “it’s another form of entry into this building (Harris Museum) which in itself is a form of performance”.

When the topic of “I’m always really excited about the reponses people have (…) ‘can I come in?’ ‘what is it?’ ‘tell me a story’, its a direct interaction, and exactly the same thing was going on yesterday, we had ten guys setting up the aluminium standard staging system and people were gathering around the Harris fencing,  ‘whats going on?’ ‘Is it free?’ you know there was this whole series of questions (…) about this quick change.”

“Theres been some really interesting responses, for example this young couple from Preston, they see the banner from about three years ago, saying ‘Now Open’, and they made the connection that morning that this staircase linked to the sign, and therefore the Harris for the first time was now open beacuse of the staircase.”

On the legacy of the guild MacKeith commented, “Its about building on that one-in twenty years cycle of procession”

When asked what he hopes the city of Preston will take away from the intervention he replied, “We’re hoping that this will change the way the Harris is used, we know people come into the library, yet theres a break between people using the library and venturing up to the first floor” noting its a “chance to learn why people might not engage and enter historic buildings”

“Whats really exciting is that this could become an annual or biennial event, yes its a very simple structure, I want to see the impact of the events taking place on it (…) hopefully people will build momentum and start to compete”

On the construction of the project MacKeith had to say, “What we’ve ended up with through Charles vision is a unique event thats quite fantsatic. The guys who’ve built the stair, they do events staging all over Britain on annual cycles, they have never used their system against an existing building until now (…) thats very exciting”

Once again the topic of a national profile came up in which MacKeith inferred, “Its more about the local pride, proud Preston, I’ve given up on trying to wonder how one gets a national profile and what triggers international comment or national comment, on one level I’m not interested, its more about how people will use the space here.”


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