WEBINAR: Flying Carpets - Johan Galtung´s Untimely Visions from 1965. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

In 1965 Johan Galtung upset Norway´s architectural scene by envisioning a future society residing in a network of cybernetic cities governed by genetically modified elites. In those cities, the citizens would enjoy a life-long education in virtual spaces, shape their lives according to their personal wishes and move around on flying carpets.

Image may contain: Water transportation, Vehicle, Art.

Image: Colored fragment from "Your personal ´flying carpet´" advertisement for America´s Independent Electric Light and Power Companies, in Newsweek, April 1959.

Surpassing the wildest imaginations of the most progressive utopian architects of the time, Johan Galtung presented his vision of a virtual urban future at the very first national congress of the Norwegian Architects´ League on city planning in 1965. Galtung´s lecture evoked immediate resistance among the Norwegian architects who, in the aftermath of Modernism, have become skeptical towards grand utopian visions. In particular, Christian Norberg-Schulz argued explicitly against Galtung´s statement that in the future geographical locations will not matter anymore, and published one of his first texts on the importance of place. The idea of place-specificity would crystalize towards the end of 1970s in Norberg-Schulz´s Genius Loci, a controversial publication which nevertheless still happens to be a must-read in many architectural schools and city planning offices across the globe.

Galtung´s visions of a cybernetic city of the future might have been judged by the 1965-architectural scene as ´little too late´ and ´definitely too cool´. Yet, from our current perspective – as we are getting accustomed to genetic modification, virtual reality, online education and taxi-drones soon to occupy our skies – it seems as if Galtung´s visions have been ushered in just ´a little too soon´. At the same time, many of us increasingly aspire something local, a connection with a place we live in. It seems as if by now everyone of us has found a way to internalize both the cybernetic way of life as well as the desire for locality. This webinar is taking us back to the moment in history when both ideas manifested as clear oppositions and invites to imagine what could be next.

About Beata Labuhn

Beata Labuhn was born in Gdynia and studied Architecture at TU Delft and L´EPFL Lausanne, as well as Philosophy at Leiden University. Currently, she is doctoral research fellow at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) where she researches the history of the entanglements between architecture and environmentalism in Norway, focusing on cases studies from the 1960s and the 1970s. Read more about Beata's work here.

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 10-15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Published Aug. 14, 2020 11:24 AM - Last modified Sep. 4, 2020 1:40 PM