Kristallen now complete in Kiruna

The relocation of Kiruna in northern Sweden is one of the largest urban transformations in modern times, and the new city hall Kristallen (The Crystal) is the first building to be completed in the new city centre. The first visitors are now being welcomed to what is known as “Kiruna’s living room”.

It was in 2004 that mining company LKAB warned that the mining of iron ore was affecting the ground, with resulting subsidence and cracks threatening the city centre itself. In the same year, Kiruna Municipality announced that the city must therefore be relocated, and a multi-year plan for the forthcoming urban transformation was initiated. Relocating a whole city doesn’t happen overnight.

A new beginning

The new city centre, three kilometres east of the current centre, is a hive of activity. Homes, schools and other important public functions will be ready for use here by 2024. Certain existing buildings and homes are being relocated, while others are being built from the ground up. The first building to be completed is the new city hall, Kristallen. The circular structure has been designed by Danish architecture practice Henning Larsen with a vision of symbolising a strong sense of community and a new beginning. Inside the building, an outer circle made up of workplaces surrounds an inner core comprising meeting rooms. The inner core takes the shape of a crystal and gives the illusion of being suspended from the ceiling.

“The former city hall in Kiruna was a well-known landmark and the aim is for Kristallen to be just as noteworthy, not just among local residents but also to the wider world. It’s a building that is beautiful inside and out, clad in white slate mixed with black materials, with gold-coloured plating that causes the building to sparkle in the sun,” says Håkan Lagerlöf, Site Manager at Input interior in Luleå, which managed the project and supplied all interior furnishings for the city hall’s offices and meeting rooms.

“We’re talking about roughly 200 workstations for municipal operations and a total of 750 chairs for all meeting rooms and the city council assembly room, as well as furniture for customer service, reception and other spaces.”

A city hall and a county art museum

In addition to municipal operations, the city hall will also serve as a county art museum.

“The new city hall is intended to be Kiruna’s living room, a welcoming place to visit. Like the previous city hall, art will play a predominant role here, with works by local and Sami artists. There are several public art tableaux within the building, but artworks also hang in the glazed meeting rooms on public view,” says Håkan.

It’s not just art that is being relocated from the former city hall. Selected materials and structural components will also be integrated in a variety of ways into Kristallen, and the characteristic bell tower has been given pride of place in front of the building. In the next few days, the venue will open for business and welcome its first visitors.

“It feels really great to have been part of a project that marks the start of a brand new city centre. Everything proceeded smoothly and on schedule, but some challenges are bound to arise when delivering to a big construction site. However, that’s understandable when you’re actually relocating an entire city,” concludes Håkan.

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