Moving Mountains – Carl Fredrik Svenstedt Architects
How do you move an entire city? In Arctic Sweden this experiment is coming to a conclusion, as over the past decade Kiruna has been moved, house by house to a new location.
There is a chance that the technology you are using to read this contains steel converted from high quality iron ore from the world’s iron ore mine. Founded in 1900 and owned by LKAB, a Swedish state-owned mining company, Kiruna has been an industry town for over a century and has been mined to a depth exceeding 1300 meters. As a result, the mine is so large and deep that the town is at risk of collapsing – you can see the cracks in the ground.
White Architects and sociologists were hired to investigate the implications and guide the process and master plan which was created for the decade long move and the process of moving Kiruna 3 km east began in 2013. Old Kiruna was demolished, with some historic buildings being relocated using flatbeds trucks. An entire new town centre has been under construction since 2016. The new townhall was finished in 2019 but the relocation is ongoing and many of the 18,000 inhabitants will be moved during moves taking place over the next decade.
What you immediately realise when you visit Kiruna is the codependency of the town and the mine – they are entirely symbiotic. In fact, the entire economic development of the region depends on the mine, so the inhabitants have accepted for their neighbourhood to be relocated. It is done bit by bit, year by year, and in autumn 2022 the new Kiruna town centre opened.