Housing billions of people, apartment blocks made of prefabricated concrete panels are one of the most common buildings in the world. Flying Panels – How Concrete Panels Changed the World tells of the time when a concrete panel soaring across the sky symbolised the future and embodied dreams of a better world. The exhibition also tells of the concrete panel systems in contemporary architecture.

Flying Panels gives an account of the evolution of the concrete panel, a building component often derided as the ugly face of our cities. But in the optimistic post-war period, the panel would build the future, cure the housing shortage and raise living standards for millions of people. The prefabricated concrete panels were at the heart of construction systems that spread to over 70 countries following the Second World War. The systems were further developed and adapted to local needs and circumstances in the different countries, with the new technique providing almost endless scope for variation.

Images of flying concrete panels were frequent in the 1950s and ‘60s. The exhibition illustrates the cultural impact and dissemination of the panels through examples of poster art, paintings, films, toys, cartoons and opera sets. A focal point of the exhibition is a suspended 1:5-scale model of one of the most representative concrete panel systems. Other key features are models of 60 modular systems from six continents.

Flying Panels is the result of years of research by curators Pedro Ignacio Alonso and Hugo Palmarola, who have gathered original material and catalogued and produced 3D models of concrete panel systems used across the world. The exhibition also outlines the history of concrete panels in Sweden, from the Million Programme and standardisation to the television series Hammarkullen.