Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the truth of a situation. In this case, a man staying with us, from western Australia, looking at a map of Kiruna. To the right of the town he sees there’s a small red circle marked, ‘Kiruna’s new town centre’. The area is hemmed in on all sides by parts of the old town, industrial areas and small lakes. Pointing at the existing town of Kiruna he says, ‘Isn’t it a bit of a small area to relocate all of that in?’
So I proceeded to tell him the tortuous process by which the siting of the new town had been decided, none of which was able to explain away this, one of the basic problems.
Just recently the long awaited plans for a new Sami parliament have been thrown out, because it turns out that the land allocated for the building encroaches on an old industrial area of dubious (from a health and safety point of view) origin, so the site isn’t large enough.
Could this explain the delay in coming up with a town plan? The one building destined to be built here is the new town hall, which looks suspiciously like a space ship – perhaps designed to levitate above the town when things feel crowded down there. Other than a plan for a town hall there is nothing yet on paper about what will be built on the designated site for the new Kiruna.
We had a little whiff of the future a couple of weeks ago when entrepreneurs and architects were invited to suggest schemes for new buildings there. One of these proposals appeared in the local paper, boasting a downhill ski slope in the centre of the town. The architect thought it would be a good idea to have some steep steps there. Realising it might be a problem in the winter (we don’t currently have steps in town, for good reasons..) they’d proposed that it could be a feature to leave the snow on the steps in winter and let the children use it as a downhill sled slope.
As if children wouldn’t find anywhere else to play on downhill snow slopes. As if it’s suitable for children to play on snow lying on top of hard stone steps…..
I was puzzled, but then, when I saw there were reindeer in the picture of the proposed town square, I realised it was all a dream – what a relief! Not sure, though, if the town council have woken up yet.
But it got us thinking. There’s a need for some plans for the new town, and plans that will work given the limitations of the site. We think some of the locals have been working on this but it seems their plans have been overlooked.