“You can’t move a city without having support—or at least
acceptance—from citizens involved,” says Göran Cars, head of
development for the Kiruna municipality.
From the start, the project team anticipated that residents
and shop owners would have conflicting priorities and visions
for the new town. The team solicited feedback by hosting small
focus groups where everyone felt their opinions could be heard,
rather than large public meetings where a vocal minority could
dominate the discussion, Mr. Cars says.
“Rather than having a debate, we talked to people about what
could be possible solutions that met their needs and require-
ments,” he says. When a group expressed concerns, “we brought
up those conflicts when we talked to the other groups. And they
worked toward resolving it, with something that’s not perfect
but acceptable to all the groups.”
For instance, the meetings helped project leaders determine that
shop owners wouldn’t move until libraries, schools and town halls
already had been established, because creating a town core would
convince residents to move—and establish ready customers for
their shops, Mr. Cars says. Shops will be relocated simultaneously
in 2019, so all start fresh on equal footing, he says.
“When we presented the plan, we had a lot of public support,
which is extremely important with such a big project,” he says.
“If you have protests all the time, it’s very hard to get investors
The project team also took a sweeping approach to anticipate
and mitigate risks. For example, Mr. Cars relied on meetings
with colleagues who had completed large-scale projects in other
Swedish cities for lessons learned that might trigger greater risk
awareness for the Kiruna project. One major takeaway: Limit
the risk of cost overruns by negotiating early with developers.
“I met person after person who said, ‘We had a fantastic plan
for this part of the city—and then developers said we can’t do
it. It isn’t financially feasible,’” he says. “That was a disaster for
their projects, of course.”
To avoid a similar fate, Mr. Cars and his team showed rough
design sketches to developers before they began negotiations
with construction contractors to determine achievability. With
construction in the early stages, the project plans are being
displayed in more than a dozen locations throughout Kiruna.
“Right now we have support of local residents,” says Mr. Cars.
“It’s wonderful to have that.” PM
“You can’t move a
city without having
the support—or at
—Göran Cars, Kiruna municipality,
Some of Kiruna, Sweden’s buildings, such as City Hall and The
Church of Kiruna, above, will be relocated to the new town a
couple of miles away. Below, the world’s largest iron-ore mine