Wednesday May 24, 2017

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A moving experience

VIDEO To save the city of Kiruna, officials there must move not just its residents, but also their hearts and minds
Razing Kiruna, and then rebuilding it again

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The city of Kiruna, Sweden, was founded in 1900, the same year as the iron mine that is nourishes the local economy began operation. With the city’s very existence intrinsically tied to activity in the mine, it should come as little surprise that when it came to a decision between whether to stop mining or to move the city, the decision fell to continued mining.

The reason why such a decision is necessary at all is because the mine’s tunnels have begun to undermine residential areas. Settling is already commonplace, but if mining continues, buildings, and, in fact, the entire city itself, risks being swallowed up by the earth.

SEE RELATED: Editor’s Briefing | A city on the move

Moving the city may be a bit of an overstatement. Just a handful of existing buildings will be moved during the relocation, expected to begin in 2019 and take two years. The rest will be purchased from current owners at a 25% premium, then razed.

This, say the architects co-ordinating the effort, opens up the opportunity for the establishment of a modern city that smooths out some of the kinks of the original Kiruna, but, they admit that it leaves behind the challenge of moving people mentally.

As this week’s video shows, residents already appear to accept that this is part of the business of living in a mining town. No matter how unusual it may be.