A novel way to revive a downtown: Move it

Summary:That's what they're doing in Sweden, building by building.

Trick of the eye. Like a game of three-card monte, downtown Kiruna will shuffle off to a new location.


What do you do when downtown ain't what it used to be? How do you reinvigorate it?

A lot of cities are asking themselves that. The answer in Kiruna, Sweden: Move it. Kiruna is relocating brick by brick, building by building, to a nearby location, according to The Atlantic Cities.

But before you start dismantling Broadway, please be aware that Kiruna is small - population, 18,000 - and it has a unique set of problems. Mainly, the ground below it is collapsing, weakened by the world's largest iron mine, operated by Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB.

"So the entire downtown is picking up and moving two miles east," the story notes. "This includes the city hall, several thousand residences, the train station and the century-old church, once voted Sweden's most beautiful public building."

The article also refers to a "sleek new town hall," so it seems as though architects are planning things old, new, borrowed, and, er, blue if you count the cold climate of Kiruna, which is 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It will all cost a cool billion dollars.

To paraphrase Petula Clark: Don't hang around and let your problems surround you. You can always move downtown.

Photo of Kiruna is from Johan Arvelius via Wikimedia

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation


Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter.

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