White wins the competition to relocate Kiruna

The challenge to relocate the city centre of Kiruna attracted architects from around the world. A total of 57 teams showed interest, of which 10 were selected to participate in the competition. Today a unanimous jury selected White as the winner.- I was extremely excited when I heard the news, says Monica von Schmalensee, CEO of White. To design what basically is a completely new city is a historic task and a unparalleled opportunity for us as architects. It is a great acknowledgment of our unique way of working with sustainable urban planning.

The winning proposal titled “Kiruna 4-ever” creates a sustainable vision for the long-term expansion of the city eastwards. It allows for the further development and broadening of Kiruna’s mix of cultures and diverse population by creating a welcoming and global city, unique in its placement within the arctic landscape. The proposal strives to create a destination of great dignity, attractive venues and fantastic living environments.

– Our ideas on how and where to move Kiruna are based on knowledge of what exists today, along with a strong vision for its future. Kiruna will be an internationally acclaimed model city, says Mikael Stenqvist, head architect of the winning proposal, developed in cooperation
with the Norwegian Ghilardi + Hellsten Architects.

Iron ore has created jobs and prosperity in Kiruna since 1900, when Sweden’s most northerly city was founded. But it is also the same underground mining that makes it necessary to move large parts of the city to safer ground. The relocation is a physical change of enormous magnitude. In 2007 the first decision was made to move the entire centre along with many of the town’s buildings. An architectural competition for a new city centre was announced, which resulted in victory for White defeating nine international teams from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Spain, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

Sustainability issues are key to the proposal. Kiruna is the largest iron producer within Europe and the greatest energy consumer in Sweden. An added complication is the city needs to be transformed at a fast pace in an extreme climate. This provides unique opportunities for new thinking in sustainable city planning and requires a long-term and flexible, holistic approach at all stages. The transport system is optimized for Kiruna’s climate by focusing on a cable car to internally connect all parts of the city including the mine, and a rail line with a station in the heart of Kiruna. The proposal is resourceful in its utilization of local materials and the reuse of those that currently make up the structures threatened by the mines deformations, this approach enables the creation of a unique and resource-efficient city.

– The proposal offers, above all, strategies to deal with an uncertain future, which may involve further ground deformations far beyond the competition brief of 2033, says Ellen Hellsten at Ghilardi + Hellsten Architects.

For information:

Monica von Schmalensee, CEO at White, 08-402 25 84
Mikael Stenqvist, Head architect White, 08-402 26 75
Ellen Hellsten, Head architect Ghilardi-Hellsten Arkitekter : +47 90 05 99 15

For images:


Kiruna stadskärna (1920x1200)