Anniversary week kicks off in Dome of Visions

Published Oct 18, 2017

Yesterday marked the start of the seminar marathon, the highlight of the anniversary week in which KTH’s campus is celebrating 100 years. “The laying of the foundations of the KTH campus and the university’s evolution go hand in hand with Sweden’s development into an industrial nation,” said President Sigbritt Karlsson in her inaugural address for the anniversary.

The 100th anniversary celebration of KTH’s campus on Valhallavägen involves a packed programme spanning the entire week. The university is opening itself up to the surrounding world a little more than usual, offering exhibitions, walks and a 50-hour seminar marathon in the Dome of Visions, at the entrance to KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The open, non-stop seminars will continue until Thursday, the anniversary of the inauguration in 1917.

The seminar marathon kicked off at lunchtime on Tuesday in the presence of KTH President Sigbritt Karlsson and with the royal couple among the specially invited guests.

“A hundred years ago, Sweden was an agricultural country, but we now have a highly developed engineering sector. Back then in 1917, KTH had only around a hundred students and from 1921, a handful of women. Today, the university has 16,000 students, of which a third are women. Our development is in line with that of the business community and society as a whole,” said Sigbritt Karlsson, who also emphasised some of the groundbreaking innovations that have come into being at KTH: the refrigerator and initial attempts at television broadcasting.

The first of the 100 speakers to address the seminar marathon were Göran Cars, Professor of Urban Planning at KTH and KTH alumna Karolina Keyzer, an architect at her own architecture firm OKK and former town architect in Stockholm, the first woman to hold the post.

As the first speakers on the theme of Urbanism – one of 11 themes – both stressed the importance of discussion, partnership and dialogue between local interests and construction industry players in order to build sustainable and attractive towns and cities, as an antidote to the trench warfare between static positions that often delays and hampers current building processes in Sweden.

“Cooperation and interdisciplinary knowledge is the only way forward. We need to listen to experts and to those who live in the towns and cities, but also to voices that perhaps don’t make themselves heard,” said Karolina Keyzer.

Having been involved in the development of Kiruna’s new town centre, Göran Cars provided examples of how such a process can look.

“Instead of presenting a finished package at the municipal hall and asking ‘What do you think of this?’, our work involved reaching out to groups in the local community in Kiruna such as the motor scooter association and trade unions where people feel comfortable about answering open questions such as ‘What would be a good environment for you?’” he said.

Göran Cars thinks it is a “great honour” to take part in the seminar marathon and in a context in which KTH’s role in societal development is presented.

“It´s an honour. Particularly it´s pleasing to be able to talk about such pressing social issues in front of the king, who has a great interest in urban planning,” he said.

One of the guests in the Dome of Visions on Tuesday was Arne Kaijser, Professor of History of Technology with a special place om his heart for KTH’s history.

“This campus is well worth celebrating, having been Stockholm’s biggest construction project for many years and inaugurated by the king and the academic elite of the time,” he says.

You often give lectures on KTH’s history. Which milestones from the past 100 years would you highlight?

“I’d like to draw attention to KTH’s first PhD thesis in 1928, written by Ivar Herlitz. His thesis was about how to avoid instability in long high-voltage lines. It was an extremely theoretical thesis that still had major practical consequences. His research helped make it possible to transfer power from the large rivers in northern Sweden to towns and factories in the south.”

“Another revolutionary invention – and one that perhaps more than any other technology has changed our lives in recent years – is mobile telephony. There’s a very strong link between the development of mobile technology and KTH. It began with the KTH engineer Östen Mäkitalo, who to a great extent was the father of mobile communication. And it continues at KTH’s campus in Kista,” says Arne Kaijser.

Sanna Cedergren is a meeting strategist at KTH and one of the organisers behind the anniversary week and seminar marathon.

“Selecting speakers for the seminar marathon was a tough challenge,” she says. “You might think that 100 speakers is a lot, but at the same time it’s quite limiting in terms of the huge organisation we have and when talking about a 100-year period. But I think we managed to put together a good programme on 11 themes that together ‘tell our story’ in a way that appeals to the audience.”

Do you personally have a favourite in the seminar marathon?

“Yes, I’m greatly looking forward to seeing Sabine Höhler’s Spaceship Earth lecture on the theme of space at 03:30 on Thursday morning. She’ll be talking about seeing the Earth as a spaceship. It will be a philosophical tale about space.”

Text: Per-Ola Knutas

Facts Anniversary week:

The seminar marathon, which will be the highlight of the celebration of Campus 100 Years that began on Monday 16 October, is being broadcast live at the Campus 100 Years website. There will also be activities all over KTH during the anniversary week. Here is a selection of activities from the anniversary calendar:

  • App tour: The Campus 100 project group and the property owner Akademiska hus have developed a special app that can be used as a guide to the university area and the rich architectural history represented on the campus.
  • Exhibitions will be arranged at the entrance to KTH, in the main library and in the teaching building.
  • Light exhibition with Master’s degree students from the KTH Lighting Department, on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Art tours with KTH’s art guides, at lunchtime on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Lab tour of KTH’s laboratories (Wednesday).
  • Operadax, led by conductor Gunnar Julin, concludes the anniversary week with a concert on Nybrokajen.
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