Design and regeneration of town centres and/or sections of urban fabric
The city of Kiruna (population 18,200), is undergoing one of the biggest urban transformations of our time. The same mining that has been the livelihood of the city is now the reason why Kiruna will have to move about three kilometers towards the east. A vast body of iron ore is being extracted at Kirunavaara, causing soil deformation and subsidence effects 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 ore producer in Europe, will fund the relocation in order to sustain mining activity at Kirunavaara.
Moving Kiruna is both a big challenge and opportunity, affecting 6,000 people. Moving Kiruna requires strategic planning and consultation with the community. Unprecedented in its ambition, the project raises the question: is it possible to move a city and build anew whilst preserving its unique identity?
In 2013 White Arkitekter, working with Ghilardi + Hellsten Arkitekter, won an international competition for a 20-year masterplan of Kiruna’s relocation by 2033. Challenging the Municipality’s brief, the winning proposal features a 100-year masterplan creating a sustainable model for the city.
The transformation of Kiruna will take place in phases. A series of projects will allow the city to ‘crawl’ along a new urban belt to its new home. This belt will link central Kiruna to the nearby settlements of Lombolo, Tuolluvaara, the airport and the mine. The character of the former Kiruna will be retained, partly by re-using materials from demolished buildings, partly by relocating some buildings of cultural importance, like Kiruna’s historic church.
A sustainable Kiruna
The relocation is an opportunity for Kiruna to become more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The new development is designed to a carbon neutral agenda. The new buildings are designed as energy-smart and are planned to be built with material from the region.
A denser plan, equipped with meeting places and cultural amenities, will promote public life and appeal to a wider demographic. A diverse community and economy are important. New accommodation will be built in addition to the 3,000 homes which will be relocated.
The ambition of the new masterplan is to use resources efficiently, harnessing the enormous amounts of waste heat from the mine and the industry, combined with wind turbines to generate energy and recycling infrastructure to reduce freight and waste.
Kiruna is also to become a city where public transport, bicycles and walking will be central.
The new urban plan
Kiruna will have a new civic square, which will be home to its historic clock tower, travel centre and a new city hall, The Crystal, which was designed by Henning Larsen Architects. The new urban plan also includes a new library and swimming pool. The Kiruna Church will be fully relocated to the new site.
Extending out from the central civic square, boroughs will stretch into the surrounding arctic landscape so that residents are never more than three blocks away from nature.
A dialogue with urban planners and residents is vital and White’s methodology, conducted by in-house social anthropologists, is exploratory – with formal and informal discussions and feedback to the community.
A proposed arts and architecture event, Kiruna Biennale, is planned, exhibiting the vision for the city and inviting residents to remember the old Kiruna and contribute to the new one.
Gross Floor Area (mq)450000
ArchitectsArchitects from White Arkitekter and Ghilardi + Hellsten Arkitekter
Design teamK. Lindstedt, K. Kragting, A. Edblom, Å. Bjerndell, S. Keshavarz, J. Matthijssen, V. Walldin, J. Wijkmark, C. Ottosson, L. S. Bäckstedt, M. von Schmalensee, E. Linn, J. Anundi, T. Stenmark, J. Perotti, M. Lundgren, E. Eriksson, S. Grahn
Main ContractorKiruna municipality
ConsultantsConsultants, Suppliers (Spacescape AB, Vectura Consulting AB, Evidens BLW AB)
SuppliersConsultants, Suppliers (Spacescape AB, Vectura Consulting AB, Evidens BLW AB)
Photo CreditsWhite and Tegmark
White Arkitekter was founded by Sidney White in 1951 and is Scandinavia’s leading architectural firm with over 900 employees in 16 offices. White has completed projects in some 50 countries in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa and is currently working in different countries with the ambition to expand internationally. White is employee-owned who form a modern fluid collective united by common values, rather than a traditional business hierarchy. Our work is research-focused and our expertise encompasses architecture, urban design, landscape architecture and interior design. For nearly two decades, White has invested in establishing a unique research-based department of highly qualified experts in the field of sustainable design. Our founder’s aim was to improve society through architecture and his legacy lives on in our ambition to contribute towards the building of a sustainable world. White Arkitekter works with Ghilardi + Hellsten Arkitekter in the New Kiruna project.