The relocation of Kiruna is the largest urban transformation in northern Europe. Sustainability, pedestrians and public transport are prioritized rather than cars.
Sweden’s northernmost city was once built to house the people who work in Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara (LKAB) iron ore companies. Over the years, the mine has expanded and is today by far the largest iron ore company in Europe. However, the underground mining tunnels create cracks that jeopardize existing buildings and one day will eventually swallow up the old city center.
A decision was made to move the center and in 2013, architects presented an overview plan for a site three kilometers to the east. For the locals came to move the houses and practically demolish a larger part of the urban areas without major protests.
Closing the 120-year-old iron ore mine was out of the question. After all, LKAB is still the main source of employment in Kiruna. In addition, the state-owned company pays to move the city.
Kiruna has 18,000 inhabitants and approximately 6,000 people’s homes are affected by the move. So is the city center, including the town hall, municipal office, the largest hotel, the central square and shops.
Architects have designed the new urban areas with Arctic climate in mind. Narrow shopping streets and tall buildings protect against snowy winds in the middle of winter.
Landmark hotel to welcome guests later this year
The new railway station has already been inaugurated. This winter, the first 60 apartments next to the new square will be ready and soon the landmark hotel with Kiruna’s first sky bar can welcome its first guests.
The new town hall, called “Kristallen”, hosts the council chamber, service office for the inhabitants, meeting rooms and exhibition rooms for regional art.
The symbolic iron tower clock, originally built in 1963, was moved from the old town hall to its new location in 2018, marking the first start of construction of Kiruna’s new skyline.
Building a completely new city center opened up to reconsider modern needs, and architects made plans with a greater focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. In open areas, pedestrians and public transport are given priority over cars.
Some of the old wooden houses have already been moved and others will follow. In 2025, the church will be moved. The more than 100-year-old church is one of the largest wooden buildings in Sweden.
Related stories from all over the Nordics:
Canada: Inuit art meets architecture – The Saguenay exhibition ends on Sunday, Eye on the Arctic
Russia: Russia’s Second Arctic Research Station Powered by Renewable Energy Sources, The Independent Barents Observer