The “CRYSTAL”, Kiruna´s new town hall: a lighthouse project for the city transformation


The new Kiruna Town Hall is a lighthouse project within the comprehensive city transformation due to extended mining areas. In the coming 20-25 years, the mining will affect approximately 2 500 apartments as well as approximately 200 000 square meters of commercial, office, school and health care premises.

Kiruna Municipality is moving the existing city hall and surrounding buildings, because of the effect of the excavations on the city’s underground. A total of 2,500 flats and 200,000 m2 of commercial, office, school and healthcare buildings will have tNyastadshus_webbildo be moved by 2035. The city hall is the first large building to be affected by the excavations. Thus, the new city hall becomes the starting signal for the new city center in Kiruna. According to plans, it is to be inaugurated in 2016.

The City of Kiruna aims at becoming a sustainable city taking care of all dimensions of sustainability. Due to the harsh mountain climate, energy efficient buildings are an important part in that. The Town Hall will be a meeting point for citizens as well as the place for decision making, and it shall – like the former Town Hall – become a national recognized example for Northern sustainable building architecture.

Based on MountEE criteria for pilot projects, the call for bids for the Town Hall included as targets and criteria in terms of sustainability
– Recycling of parts of the old City Hall
– Target level: at least -50% reduced energy demand compared to building code
– Low CO2 emissions calculated for the whole lifecycle
– Matching criteria for Swedish Green Building Council’s Miljöbyggnad
– Use of environmental-friendly building materials according to Sunda Hus criteriaNew Kiruna poster

So far, there are few examples for highly energy efficient public buildings in the County of Norrbotten. The Town Hall will contribute substantially to a better understanding of technical questions, it will also be a highly visible example made to raise awareness.

After an architect competition, in which the MountEE criteria were part of the call for bids, the winning proposal “Kristallen” was selected. First, it did not meet energy criteria in their full extent, and a re-design has been demanded, which has been successful.

The new city hall consists of two building volumes. The inner building is shaped like a crystal inspired by the great deposits of iron ore in the area’s underground. The outer building floats like a ring around the crystal, protecting it against the rough weather conditions of the region.

“It has been important for us to get the best out of the rough weather and wind conditions and allow as much daylight into the building as possible”, says Peer Teglgaard Jeppesen, Director and Partner at Henning Larsen Architects. “Kiruna’s new city hall is a democratic building, open to everybody. Inside the building, the democratic process is supported by the interplay between offices at the periphery and public functions at the heart of the building.”

The round shape of the new city hall creates a better micro-climate both inside and outside. The shape allows 17 % more daylight to pour into the volume. The city hall has already been named The Crystal. It is inspired by the city’s special character, culture and history. Kiruna’s existing city hall is a unique piece of architecture from 1958, which was designed by Artur von Schmalensee. The new city hall refers to the old one in several ways. The bell tower from the listed city hall will be re-used in the square, just as materials and building parts will be re-used to the extent possible.Konstruktionsplan Kiruna stadshus

“The Crystal is a city hall that we can be proud of, and we are delighted to present this particular proposal as winner today. In the assessment, we have sought help from several experts and various reports. We have also had many comments from the public, and naturally, we have considered these in the jury work, too”, says Lisbeth Nilsson, Chairman of the Jury.

Total area: 9702 m2
Energy demand: 56 kWh/m2 (building code 132 kWh/m2).

The construction work will start – depending on weather conditions – between April and May 2015.

Wolfgang Mehl (Nenet)

Author: Wolfgang Mehl (Nenet)

I work as project manager for e environmental and energy-related programs for Nenet and the north Swedish municipality Jokkmokk.

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