Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World

Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World

Flying Panels - How Concrete Panels Changed the World is a new ArkDes exhibition designed by Note Design Studio and curated by Pedro Ignacio Alonso and Hugo Palmarola - authors of the Monolith Controversies exhibition, the winner of the Silver Lion award at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2014.

It brings together a series models and material as posters, paintings, films, toys, cartoons and opera sets are gathered to reflect on how concrete panels influenced culture for the construction of a new society.

Aleksandr Deyneka Building Peace, 1960 Sketch for a mural mosaic at the First National Art Exhibition of Soviet Russia, Moscow Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Aleksandr Deyneka Building Peace, 1960 Sketch for a mural mosaic at the First National Art Exhibition of Soviet Russia, Moscow Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Left: M. Gordo, Long live the 1st of May!, 1959 Poster, Soviet Union. Right: B. Semionov and V. Alekseyev. The 9th Five-Year Plan. We build quickly and skilfully. Today we will mass-produce houses, 1971. Poster, Soviet Union
Left: M. Gordo, Long live the 1st of May!, 1959 Poster, Soviet Union. Right: B. Semionov and V. Alekseyev. The 9th Five-Year Plan. We build quickly and skilfully. Today we will mass-produce houses, 1971. Poster, Soviet Union

“Alongside air travel, the space programme and nuclear power, concrete panels were once considered to be an innovation that would help bring about a new, rational future for society and the world. In the second half of the 20th century, heroic images of concrete panels soaring across the sky began to emerge in popular culture,” say curators Pedro Ignacio Alonso and Hugo Palmarola.

“Thanks, cranes!" Written on the yellow banner: "Work for the kindergarten." Yu Cherepanov, Crocodile, No. 24, 1969, Soviet Union
“Thanks, cranes!" Written on the yellow banner: "Work for the kindergarten." Yu Cherepanov, Crocodile, No. 24, 1969, Soviet Union
Sune Sundahl Installation of large concrete panels in residential buildings, 1967–1968 ArkDes photo collection
Sune Sundahl Installation of large concrete panels in residential buildings, 1967–1968 ArkDes photo collection

The exhibition demonstrates the story of how precast concrete panels became a symbol of the future, both in politics and in art, embodying the dream of a better world from the second half of the twentieth century to the present - these were the core of the construction systems that extended to more than 70 countries after World War II.

Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson

Focal points of the exhibition are a suspended 1:5-scale model of one of the most representative concrete panel systems, and 60 models of panel systems from six continents. 

Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson

“The exhibition is about one of the most mass-produced objects in design history and brings together a staggering and exciting collection of objects to help us understand the concrete panel and through it, the modern world. Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World uses the concrete panel as a lens through which we can see how technology, society, politics and art are interconnected. The exhibition proves that concrete panels were much more than just a convenient solution to provide a roof over the heads of the rapidly growing populations of the 20th century,” says Kieran Long, Director, ArkDes.

Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson
Installation view of the exhibition “Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World”, ArkDes. October 18, 2019–March 1, 2020. Image © Kristofer Johnsson

The exhibition features original drawings and art works by James Stirling, Ernst May, Fluxus’ Henry Flint and George Maciunas, the Swedish D4 Group, including Pablo Picasso’s large-concrete panel sculpture “Breakfast in the green”. 

It also features photographs of contemporary panel structures by OMA, Herzog & De Meuron, and Housechild-Siegel architecture. Other pieces on display include an original concrete panel with the emblem of the French Camus-Dietsch factory, watercolors of façade mosaics by Nikolai Jarsky’s in Tashkent,  a series of posters advertising panel construction around the world, a whole collection of satirical cartoons from the popular Soviet magazine Krokodile, films by Věra Chytilová, Hieronim Neumann and Eldar Ryazanov, and the technical and typological reconstruction of 60 large-concrete panel systems developed worldwide between 1948 and 1989, presented as both physical models and interactive digital files to explore their panel types and assembly strategies. 

Exhibition credits

Curated by: Pedro Ignacio Alonso and Hugo Palmarola
Curator at ArkDes: Carlos Mínguez Carrasco
Exhibition Producer: Sofia Liljergren
Exhibition Design: Note Design Studio
Graphic Design: Brand Union
Content developer: José Hernández
Research: Michael Abrahamson, Erik Stenberg, Erik Sigge.

Exhibition Team: Daniel Golling, Markus Eberle, Tina Helmersson Landgren, Stefan Mossfeldt, Halla Sigurdardottir, Sandra Nolgren, Maria Östman, Elisabet Schön, Frida Melin, Lena Biörnstad Wranne, Eva-Lisa Saksi, Madeléne Beckman.

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Cite: Dejtiar, Fabian. "Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World" [Flying Panels: Cómo los paneles de concreto cambiaron el mundo] 26 Oct 2019. ArchDaily. (Trans. Erman, Maria) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/927207/flying-panels-nil-how-concrete-panels-changed-the-world> ISSN 0719-8884
Gerbert Rappaport. Director. Image from the movie Cherry Town (Cheryomushki) 1963.

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