And you thought moving house was stressful: Huge iron ore mines underneath Kiruna in Sweden’s far north have caused cracks - now officials are relocating the whole city

Some buildings will be totally demolished while others are being dismantled and reassembled

Everyone knows how stressful moving house can be, but officials in Kiruna in Sweden’s far north are faced with an even greater challenge: moving an entire city.

For more than 100 years, one of the world’s largest iron ore mines has provided the city inside the Arctic Circle with jobs and wealth. But as mining operations have expanded, cracks have started appearing in the city centre, threatening the foundations of the buildings at Kiruna’s core.

So in 2004, the decision was made to uproot the city centre – complete with church, town hall, schools, shops and the station – and shift it two miles to the east, along with many of the city’s 18,000 residents.

And after years of planning, the massive urban adventure is finally getting under way. In March the municipality selected a city centre design by the Swedish architectural firm White.

Results of a competition to design a new city hall will be announced later this month.

And on 31 August, Kiruna residents gathered on the platform of the station to watch the final train roll out.

“It feels a bit nostalgic and a little sad,” one resident, Mia Mörtlund, told Sveriges Radio, reflecting the views of many residents who feel more sentimental about the old city than angry at the prospect of relocating to a new one.

“For most people in Kiruna the fact that the town and its inhabitants will have to move is accepted as part of life,” Mikael Stenqvist, an architect at White, told The Independent.

The problem so far, he said, was that residents had been in a state of limbo as authorities debated exactly where the new city should be and what it would look like. But with the design finally approved, Mr Stenqvist said, “it’s time to stop talking and start acting.”

There are still grumbles, however, about the pace of work.

It’s a massive undertaking: some old buildings are being demolished; others are being dismantled, packaged up, and reassembled two miles away. Some structures, like the train station, will be replaced with temporary facilities.

Officials estimate that the move will progress over the next two decades – but the deformations caused by mining operations going deeper into the nearby mountain have already started appearing.

“We should have started the process in 2009 or 2010,” Peter Johansson of the construction company NCC told the Wall Street Journal. “The only thing that cannot be stopped is the fracturing, and it makes me worried thinking about how we will be able to make this in time.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that 3,000 apartments and houses are being relocated, along with 2.2million square foot of offices and government buildings. The state-owned mining company LKAB is covering most of the costs, with 3.5bn Swedish krona paid so far and another 7.5bn krona put aside.

Computer-generated projections of the new city centre show a thoroughly modern central square complete with cable cars, minimalist, boxy buildings, and large pedestrianised areas.

Not all the old structures will be replaced by gleaming new buildings. Kiruna’s old church, which in 2001 was voted the most beautiful building in Sweden, will be hoisted onto a lorry and transported in one piece, its arrival marking the final stage of Kiruna’s decades-long reinvention.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: £20000 - £25000 per annum + c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a number ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Sales Consultant - OTE £45,000

£15000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for an exci...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food