During a ceremony last Thursday, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf officially inaugurated the new Kiruna City Hall, which he described will become a “living room” for the relocating town. Centuries of mining began to destabilize the earth around Kiruna, putting the town at risk of collapse. In response to this growing threat, the mining firm Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara (LKAB) proposed to move Kiruna 3 kilometers east.
A team led by Henning Larsen Architects designed the new town hall after they won the competition back in 2013. Named “The Crystal” (or ‘Kristallen‘), the building's design is a tribute to the mining town's history and, as the first building of Kiruna's new city center, it will function as a public focal point for the re-established community.
“The Crystal” took two years to construct. Designed with a circular form that signifies communal focus, the city hall functions as both a civic and social space, says Louis Becker, Henning Larsen Partner and Design Principal. The new design also incorporates the historic 1958 bell tower and the original door handles at the main entrance from Swedish architect Arthur von Schmalensee's original scheme.
The city hall's angular geometry was inspired by iron minerals that are central to the town's identity. The outer building contains office space for the Kiruna Municipality's public departments, while the core is dedicated to social spaces like public exhibition halls, workshops, and meeting rooms.
“Community identity often has real geographic roots,” Becker said in a statement. “We knew that during Kiruna’s relocation, losing a sense of place could be a major challenge to the town’s residents. Our hope is that this town hall is not only an effective seat for the local government, but a space that celebrates Kiruna’s history and establishes an enduring symbol of local identity.”
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