On the edge of Kiruna we can see two huge cranes silhouetted in the sky. They hang limply above the site for the new town of Kiruna, like out-of-work gods of creation, hanging around on street corners, hoping for a lucky break. They mark the site of ‘the new Kiruna’, where – the council insist – work is full speed ahead.
It’s true there are a few new, almost completed, building projects in Kiruna – there are some new flats, some new accommodation for elderly people, and a youth sports facility – but none of them are on the site of the new town. The mining company has organised the demolition of several blocks of flats, and the repositioning of the road to Nikkaluokta, but none of this can be described as building the new town.
On the local council’s website is a list of ‘milestones’ for ‘the new Kiruna’. It’s a long list, but most of the achievements are projects elsewhere on the edges of the old Kiruna. Reading through the whole long list, the only thing I could find that’s anything to do with building the new town is that the ground on the site has been ‘broken up’.
Basically, they’ve dug some holes. Kiruna’s good at making holes, and is currently sinking into one.
It’s not impressive, but is consistent with my observations last year that the council is focussing on the ‘negative space’ principle – in the belief that if we are encouraged to focus on the spaces we might then be able to imagine the town that ought to be in between them.
Our comments are invited on plans for a new town park – a park in the centre of a town which doesn’t exist. It’s an interesting concept.
The sky’s the limit of course (this really is blue-sky thinking). Without a town to restrict it, the park can be any shape or dimension. Like the children’s game, ‘create your own country’. First you draw your country, then you decide on its landscape, its coastline, its vegetation, its buildings, even its inhabitants. Let your imagination go wild.
Sadly they haven’t. The proposals for the new town park – which after all can only exist in someone’s vivid imagination – display a dire lack of inspiration. We are asked to comment on the proposals, and I wonder if anyone has, and if they have I wonder if their responses are printable.
I need only tell you about one proposal, to make my point. Let’s not focus on the ‘karaoke area’, though there is doubtless a lot that can be said about that – and none of it good. I will just mention the proposal for an area to be called, ‘The Snow Mound’. That is a space where there will be, presumably, a large pile of snow. Just like all the piles of snow on every street corner, outside every house, and at the back of everyone’s building, in the whole of Kiruna, for at least six months of the year. These ideas come from a firm of architects based in southern Sweden, so maybe, for them, this would be an exciting idea. Even an imaginative idea.
Something is going very wrong here.