Kiruna is a sub-arctic mining city located in the iron ore rich area known as Malmfälten in Sweden. The city is built around the world’s largest underground iron ore mine and is one of several northern mining cities with a prosperous but uncertain future. In 2004 the mining company LKAB informed the municipality that the city center of Kiruna had to make way for the increasing deformation zone of the mine within the next two decades. Instead of relocating the mine, the authorities decided to demolish Kiruna’s city center and rebuild it 3km east of its current location. An international architecture competition was launched in 2013 - Our winning entry proposes a moving but persisting city, forever.


Winning competition entry 2012 - ongoing


Kiruna Municipality

Project group:

Ghilardi+Hellsten Arkitekter / White Architects


Kiruna, Sweeden


23.000 m²


Space Scape


Masterplan, Mixed use


Ghilardi+Hellsten, Tegmark

The exisiting centre is located adjacent to the Kiirunavaara mine











+ program




Strategy Matrix

Our team proposed to expand the timeline of the vision considerably to a much more distant future - the year 2100. We introduce a matrix of 6 layers that each transform Kiruna through continuous interventions and structural development.


The move unfolds gradually through a step by step process. Each step eastwards is rooted through a public project that gradually produces a string of places tying the old to the new. This spine of public spaces is the backbone to the development while keeping the city intact through its changing morphology. Eventually this spine develops into a network of streets, public spaces and buildings.


The proposal enables a coherent urban structure throughout the transformation processes, engaging old and new tissue with the open landscape as the city grows linearly eastwards and then organically north-south in the form of fingers/neighbourhoods.

An urban strip is overlaid Kiruna’s pre-existing city fabric in an eastward direction, connecting Kiruna’s centre to the neighbouring areas and towards the airport.






Ultimately, we propose an open ended scenario where speculations on the future can be projected. How can Kiruna outlive the mine, in a distant future when all mineral deposits are depleted? What potential is released in the process of remediating the deformed post-mine landscape? How can the intensive process of city transformation mobilize resources and foster diversity and resilient economies?

We propose three specific projects to encourage and manage a participatory process:

The Kiruna Portal: An open structure for management and communication of the process, A toolbox for recycling and production of urbanity.


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 Biennale: An opportunity for Kiruna to exhibit and host events to share the story and give life to the vision that shapes the city. Conceptually grounded on the idea of time as an intrinsic design component, the project also seeks to pose some fundamental questions for the future.

Kirunas constant relationship to landscape is articulated by introducing pockets of green that are to be left intact. These are to provide the inhabitants access to nature so that all inhabitants are near trails, paths and recreational facilities all year round.

The new city hall, railway station and other public functions are gathered in an arctic plaza.

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Related Projects


Kiruna development plan