In a radical but necessary step, the Swedish city of Kiruna is to be rebuilt two miles away
The city, which has a population of approximately 18,200 and is in the north of the country, has not choice but to move. The extraction of iron ore to the west is causing deformation and subsidence which will soon reach the city centre.
The state-owned mining company, LKAB, which founded the town in 1900 and is now the largest iron producer in Europe and the greatest energy consumer in Sweden, will fund the relocation of the city in order to sustain mining activity at Kirunavaara up until the year 2033.
The entire city will be relocated
In February 2013 White Arkitekter, working with Ghilardi + Hellsten Arkitekter, won an international competition for a 20-year masterplan of Kiruna’s phased relocation by 2033. Challenging the municipality’s brief, White is taking a much longer view and has initiated a 100-year masterplan with the aim to create a sustainable model city, a city with a diverse economy that is less dependent on the world market for iron ore.
This week LKAB and the municipality of Kiruna announced the first phase of that masterplan, with LKAB pledging an investment of €415.5 million for the development of the new town centre. Construction of phase 1 will start in June with estimated completion in seven years.
Image showing the new town centre in winter
Mikael Stenqvist, Partner at White and lead architect on Kiruna, said: ‘We are delighted to be making the first steps in our Kiruna plan. Kiruna will be like a walking millipede, crawling, moving slowly with a thousand feet a few kilometres east.’
Proposed shopping street
Winter view of the proposed new city park