White Architects has just been selected as the winner of the competition to relocate the City Center of Kiruna, located in the north of Sweden. Their 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. More images and architects' description after the break.
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 master-plan.
An urban strip is overlaid eastward over Kiruna’s pre-existing city fabric, connecting Kiruna’s center to the neighboring 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.
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/neighborhoods. 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.
Transformation process- 3 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 systematize 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.
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-stabilize 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 center. 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.
Location: Kiruna, Sweden
Lead Architect: Mikael Stenqvist
Competition Result: 1st prize winner