Skip to content
CityLab
Economy

The Billion-Dollar Plan to Relocate One City's Entire Downtown

Mining damage is forcing Kiruna, Sweden, to pick up and move — two miles east.
relates to The Billion-Dollar Plan to Relocate One City's Entire Downtown
Courtesy White arkitekter AB

At 90 miles above the Arctic Circle, the small outpost of Kiruna, Sweden, may seem like an odd choice for a new, billion-dollar model city. But Sweden's northernmost town, with a population today of just 18,000, is facing what planners from the Stockholm-based architecture firm White have obliquely called "unprecedented pressure for transformation."

That's a nice way of saying that the ground beneath Kiruna is collapsing, quickly. The city's current downtown was built during the mining boom of the post-war era, as the state-owned mining company, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB, brought jobs and investment to the region. But in the past decade, LKAB — now the largest iron mine in the world — has begun to dig deeper, unsettling the ground beneath the current town center.