How to save a (literally) sinking city

The Swedish town of Kiruna is moving east

Jan.January 05, 2019 01:00 PM

(Credit: iStock)

What do you do if your city is sinking? Move it a few miles east.

That’s the plan for Kiruna, Sweden. A section of the country’s youngest and northernmost city is relocating roughly 1.8 miles to the east, according Post Magazine. Part of the city will be demolished and rebuilt elsewhere, while some buildings will be physically relocated.

The city is sinking for the same reason it was founded in 1900: it sits atop a magnetite iron ore mine. Cracks caused from years of iron extraction are starting to show, and there’s concern that the city will eventually collapse into a number of sinkholes. So, state-owned mining company Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB), which owns the mine, is footing the $1.2 billion bill for Kiruna’s relocation.

“Six thousand people have to move,” said urban planner Göran Cars. “We need to build 20,000 square meters of retail space; 1,500 work places and 400 hotel rooms must be replaced. Plus the hospital, schools, day-care centers, libraries. We haven’t built any new towns in Sweden in 100 years; Kiruna [founded in 1900] is the newest, so it’s ironic that the youngest has to be partly demolished.” [Post Magazine] — Kathryn Brenzel

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