We knew it would be knocked down, soon, but when it happens it’s like a night time heist – a hidden burglary, a stealing of a building when no-one’s looking. One day there’s Vinterpalatset Hotel, in it’s usual prominent position, looking out from the town to the mine, standing proud on the hill, an old wooden building, part of Kiruna’s history. Then, suddenly, you drive past and it isn’t there.
This is how they do it. Long before it happens you know the building will have to be demolished. Years ahead. Then at some stage, behind closed doors, the current owners or tenants are bought out. So as to conceal the stage we are at, at that time new tenants are moved in, on unknown, temporary conditions. Then, one day when you aren’t looking, these tenants suddenly move out, but you wouldn’t know because the building continues to look occupied – lights on and a domestic item carefully placed by the doorway. Then over a period of a couple of months the building starts to look a bit different, but it’s easy to miss these signs. It looks as if it’s undergoing repairs. That’s what your brain sees – they’re mending the windows. But actually what they’re doing is removing certain items, preparing it for its execution.
Then one day the bulldozer moves in. Quietly. Of course if you live next door it isn’t quiet, but if you live a couple of streets away it is – there’s no announcement, no warning, no last minute speech from the gallows. You want the old hotel to celebrate its many years of Kiruna history, to remember its famous and infamous guests, to mark the occasion with – well something, I don’t know what. Not to have this sudden unseen departure, as if it’s never been.
It’s happening all over Kiruna, faster and faster. Yesterday the gallows went up for all the Erskine buildings in central Kiruna. A concrete skirt and low blue fence all around them, cutting right across the old town square, the centre of Kiruna. This really is The End.