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.