White Arkitetker unveils masterplan
for Swedish city relocation


Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: this new movie by White Arkitetker reveals the firm's masterplan for the relocation of an entire Swedish city, before continued iron ore mining destabilises the ground beneath it (+ movie).

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

On show this week as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Kiruna 4-Ever plan is a phased strategy for moving the city of Kiruna a few kilometres eastwards to allow mining to continue for another 20 years.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

White Arkitetker's strategy involves establishing a new central strip running west to east through the existing city centre. This will be incrementally extended on one side, while buildings at the other end will be gradually dismantled.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

"Literally relocating an entire city, Kiruna will be a bit like a walking millipede with its house and feet – moving, crawling slowly a couple of kilometres towards the east," explains architect Mikael Stenqvist in the movie.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

This will connect Kiruna's centre with the neighbouring settlements of Lombolo, Tuolluvaara and Kiirunavaara, as well as the airport. It also creates the opportunity to introduce a new transport system, including cable cars and freight trains.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

Stenqvist describes the biggest challenge as maintaining "the unique identity of Kiruna and its citizens". He also explains that the move will help the city establish new businesses, making it less reliant on the mining industry.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

"We are striving for getting hold of all the opportunities in this great relocation, of how to create an even more attractive city, and a more dense city, and a more mixed city, and a close relationship to the surrounding Arctic landscape," he says.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

The move has been planned for a decade, after the state mining company warned city officials in 2004 that excavating more iron ore would cause dangerous underground cracks beneath the city.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

The first public building to be affected by the move is Kiruna's town hall, which will be relocated to a new circular building with a crystal-shaped inner structure, designed by Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

In the distant future, once the ore has finally been extracted, White Arkitetker hopes the mine can become an industrial park aimed at tourists, and that the area can be reestablished as a migration route for reindeer.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

Kiruna 4-Ever was developed with Oslo architects Ghilardi+Hellsten and will be presented as part of the Time Space Existence exhibition, opening at Palazzo Bembo and Palazzo Mora on 7 June.

Here are more details about the project from White Arkitetker:

The New 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. White's winning proposal titled "Kiruna 4-ever" creates a sustainable vision for the long-term expansion of the city eastwards.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

Strategic Vision - Process vs completeness

Kiruna is an urban settlement under unprecedented pressure for transformation, a process that, with the continuing global demand for iron, will most likely not stop at the year 2033. More than any other city in the world, Kiruna will never achieve completeness or an ideal state. It is in the creative orchestration of the transformation processes where we will find Kiruna's vision, Kiruna's masterplan. Already within the next two years, the city needs to implement new projects and uncover immediate territorial potential through their execution. Each phase on the timeline will present an optimised, invigorated urban-landscape relationship, an improved city. All these different actions will be layered through time by considering pre-existing conditions as point of departure for a given phase.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter

Relocation - West-east redirection

An urban strip is overlaid eastward over Kiruna's pre-existing city fabric, connecting Kiruna's centre to the neighbouring settlements of Lombolo, Tuolluvaara, Kiirunavaara, and the airport. The proposal enables Kiruna to maintain a coherent urban structure throughout the transformation processes, engaging old and new tissue with the open landscape. A main street, currently Malmvägen, forms the cities backbone. The proposed infrastructure builds on existing conditions, a central location for the train station generates development opportunities for commercial and public services. Our strategy is to introduce a flexible, fast, frequent and climate-friendly public transport system including a cable-car and a rail freight line. Future investments in Kiruna are located according to the time scale of the mines deformation. The areas which will be affected by future deformations are mid-term and removable investments. The areas further from the mine that will not be affected by any future deformations are suitable for heavier and long-term investments, such as the railway station, hospital and town hall.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter
Area plan - click for larger image

Site-specific urban form - Interlocking with the arctic landscape

The goal is to create a city where the vast, open arctic landscape meets a denser human community in "full contact"; the city fabric grows linearly eastwards but will also develop organically north-south, in the form of fingers/neighbourhoods. Such a zoning strategy allows natural areas to remain intact and in direct contact with public functions, services and living quarters, stimulating outdoor recreation and preservation of nature.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter
Development diagram - click for larger image

Transformation process - Three designs

The future of Kiruna depends on the knowledge, effort and commitment of its residents, we propose three specific projects so as to encourage, manage and systematise people involvement:

The Kiruna Dialogue: a continual intensive dialogue with the residents to provide valuable input and a well-founded direction to long-term planning.

The Kiruna Portal: an open structure, an extra-large communal shop for housing manufacturing, a "build it yourself" facility and construction recycling depot, equipped with state of the art technology and building management services.

The Kiruna Biennale: an opportunity for Kiruna to exhibit and host events to share the story and give life to the vision that shapes the city.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter
Concept diagram - click for larger image

Future Identity - Rebranding Kiruna

The city of Kiruna deserves an identity update, which is only possible by incepting variegated new programs, including fresh businesses, in order to de-stabilise the city's mono-functionality. Kiruna's true nature will always be related to iron extraction, but it is precisely the collateral effects of this enterprise which opens for opportunism in terms of alternative uses and activities, like a treasury park, a scooter velodrome or a leisure centre. In a very distant future, when all the ore of the region is finally extracted, the mine and its facilities could become a historical industrial park and regional tourist attraction. The new park where the city once stood will be reestablished as the historic route for the reindeer's migration.

Kiruna 4 Ever by White Arkitekter
Section - click for larger image

Energy – City and mine symbiosis

In order to establish a new sustainability standard it is paramount to understand the relationship between the city and the mine as symbiotic in terms of natural resources and energy consumption/production. This is a unique opportunity for a new standard for sustainable city planning and long-term, flexible holistic energy management strategies in all stages. In addition to wind power and the interconnection of LKAB and TNABs district heating system energy production in Kiruna focuses on maximising the utilisation of the enormous amounts of waste heat in the mining industry to create a carbon neutral city. The mine and the mining area are also an important resource even after the mine has shut down. Minerals for example which are not mineable with current techniques are likely to become so in the future, and by the opportunity to take advantage of the stable environment of the mine in various ways, ranging from plantations to energy processes.

  • EMK

    All I see when I look at the town hall is a stack of pancakes topped with butter.

    • Kalum

      Sounds great :D

      When can I move there?

    • MDL

      Swedish Pancakes?

  • Justsaying

    An interesting problem to work on, but I could do without slow motion walking shots of architects. They’re not super models… just super heroes (obviously).

  • Leonardo Castanheira

    Why would the Swedish government allow this and prioritise a company over a whole city? Isn’t the company the one that should find a new place to mine? I think that the money isn’t worth the social impact this would cause on the population.