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Moving Kiruna

Debate over saving historic buildings

Published tisdag 19 april 2011 kl 17.19
Historic Hjalmar Lundbohm site. (Photo: Lotta Myhrén/Sveriges Radio)

Plans continue for the moving  and rebuilding the northern Swedish mining community of  Kiruna – – since the vast network of tunnels under the streets have made life there shaky – and there are plans to dig even more mine shafts  in the search for that valuable iron ore.

But hopes of local politicians and the mining company leaders to rip down instead of move old historic buildings have sparked some high-level protests.

  

A highly unusual and costly measure to be sure to move and rebuild a whole town – and local politicians and the state owned LKAB mining company making profits for the last 120 years are counting the kronor.

Both have jointly appealed to the government to remove the cultural stamp of preservation for the town’s historic buildings – arguing that it would be cheaper to build brand new.

But some leaders of  Swedish organizations defending the historic buildings  have appealed in the prestigious Stockholm newspaper Svenska Dagbladet to save the structures: 

   …the city hall with its high rectangular clock tower – not just a home base for politicians but a gathering place for the whole community, the central train station –  the hub of tracks bringing in the workers and settlers to this once-sparsely populated region  and removing the iron ore to ports and factories around the world .. a beautiful and pomp-filled  settlement of 1895 – once the home of the company boss – and now a museum and conference center.

Kerstin Westerlund Bjurström is the chairperson of the Swedish section of the International Council on Monuments and Sites – explaining why she co-signed the appeal.

In Kiruna, the town’s head architect Tomas Nylund is diplomatic in his position balancing between the will of his bosses the politicians and those wanting to save the historic past.

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