How a Scandinavian town is moving to avoid being swallowed underground

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The mining town of Kiruna is migrating three kilometres east due to fracturing and deformation caused by the iron ore mines underneath it.

Located 145 kilometres above the Arctic Circle in the northernmost part of Sweden, Kiruna is home to 20,000 people, most of which work the world’s largest iron ore mine.

In order to extract more iron ore from the valuable mineral deposit, the state-controlled mining company has dug deeper and deeper into nearby Mount Kiirunavaara leading to the fracturing and deformation of the land beneath the town and forcing the entire city to relocate.

While most of the town will be rebuilt from scratch, many historical structures, including an old church, voted Sweden’s most beautiful structure last year, will relocated brick by brick, to the new site.

Over the next 20 years, the majority of the new structures will be built. By the year 2100, the town will have wholly shifted. The arctic chill will be the biggest factor in keeping the timeline; temperatures rarely get above 7 degrees centigrade in the summer and snow falls year round.

Planners are aiming for a design standard that balances aesthetics, beauty, and ecological sustainability.