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The Swedish town being moved two miles gets its first new building

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It’s a shiny town hall from Henning Larsen

Circular town hall in snowy landscape Photo by Peter Rosén courtesy Henning Larsen

The tiny arctic town of Kiruna sits at the northern most tip of Sweden, where it’s home to the world’s largest ore mine. For years, the remote municipality has been sinking into the ground due to ever-deeper mine digging, which has created sinkholes and unstable ground beneath the town’s foundation.

Circular building in snowy town Photo by Peter Rosén courtesy Henning Larsen

Now, the town of 18,000 people is getting a new home. In an astonishingly ambitious urban planning project, Kiruna is moving its city center two miles east of where it currently sits, onto more stable land. The first construction project for the new city center is an appropriately triumphant town hall, designed by Henning Larsen.

Atrium with gold walls Photo by Hufton + Crow courtesy Henning Larsen

The Copenhagen-based international firm, which previously designed stunning municipal buildings for the Faroe Islands, gave the new Kiruna a circular building, dubbed the Crystal for its gleaming appearance. The Crystal will serve as the town’s administrative and cultural center, and it marks its significance with a stack of golden volumes atop the roof.

Wood paneled chamber Photo by Hufton + Crow courtesy Henning Larsen
Photo by Hufton + Crow courtesy Henning Larsen

The inside of the building is like an anti Apple spaceship, with layers of materials that include gilded wall panels, an airy and communal circular foyer, and an cozy city council chamber (who’s ever heard of such a thing?) swathed in wood.

Building with circular facade Photo by Peter Rosén courtesy Henning Larsen

When the relocation initiative wraps up in 2040, the town will have constructed more than 3,000 buildings. The Crystal is a hopeful beacon for what’s certain to be a long and very cold process.