The design entry 'The Crystal' by Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with Tema Landscape Architects Sweden, WSP Engineers Sweden and UiWE Cultural Designers has scored the first prize in the international competition for the new city hall building in Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost city.
Henning Larsen Architects is no stranger to building in Northern Sweden - just last year, the Danish firm completed Umeå Art Museum, a part of the Umeå University Campus.
Project Description from the Architects:
"The new city hall in Kiruna is inspired by the city's special character, culture and history. The city hall, which has already been named Krystallen – The Crystal – will become the city's natural gathering point, where the traditions of democracy will be united with a vision about a dynamic meeting place for politics as well as social and cultural events.
The city hall consists of an inner and an outer building volume. The inner building is shaped like a crystal. The shape is inspired by the enormous concentration of iron ore that is found in the area's underground. Extraction of iron ore constitutes the city's basis of existence. The Crystal is publicly accessible and it comprises exhibition rooms, workshops, a city council hall, meeting rooms and balconies that are stacked on top of each other up through the building. The Crystal is the city's and the citizens' city hall, but it is also a landmark for Kiruna, which will stand out clearly a long way off due to its reflective surface."
"The outer building floats like a ring around The Crystal, protecting it against the rough weather conditions of the region. This building comprises offices for the staff of the municipality's different departments. The building's shape forces the wind to move around the volume, ensuring that snow will not settle up against the building. The ring symbolises democracy, community and solidarity.
Kiruna's new city hall is a democratic building. Due to its round shape, the building opens up to the entire city. There is public access to the city hall via a flight of stairs, where you can either move through the current exhibition or continue straight up to the top of the building. Inside the city hall, the democratic process is supported by the interplay between offices at the periphery and public functions at the heart of the building.
Kiruna's current city hall is a unique piece of architecture from 1958. It was launched as a design competition in which architects Alvar Aalto and Artur von Schmalensee were among the participants. The latter won the competition. The city hall was inaugurated in 1963, and the following year, it was awarded the Kasper Salin Prize, which is considered Sweden's most prestigious architectural prize.
The new city hall refers to the existing in several ways. The bell tower from the listed city hall is re-used in the square in front of the new city hall, just as materials and building parts are re-used to the extent possible. The winning proposal also carries on the idea about the city hall as a common everyday space for citizens and politicians alike."
The sustainability concept for the new city hall in Kiruna takes its starting point in Henning Larsen Architects' method, ‘Design with Knowledge’. The method is about reducing and optimising a building's energy consumption as early in the design process as possible.
The project's daylight strategy is linked to the circular facade and its ribbon windows. The material and design of the ribbon windows ensure that daylight is reflected into the offices, which are located along the outer facade. The same applies to the atrium, where the white surfaces of the roof structure and the bright surfaces of the building's interior ensure optimum daylight conditions at the building's centre.
In connection with the project, a materials list has been prepared, which describes the proposed materials' environmental profiles. The choice of materials aims at reducing the environmental impact while at the same time ensuring good working conditions for workmen and users during and after construction."
"About the competition
In May 2012, Kiruna Municipality decided to launch a design competition with the purpose of finding a functional, durable and realisable architectural solution for Kiruna's new city hall.
Extract from Jury citation:
“The Crystal builds on the idea of contrasts and interesting encounters. Visitors, politicians and civil servants can move around and meet throughout the house and experience interesting and beautiful spatialities with views across the city and the landscape. The great art collection and other exhibitions are present in the entire building. The Crystal is a new city hall that you can be proud of.”
56 teams from Europe, North America and Asia applied to participate in the competition. Five teams from Denmark, Norway and Sweden were selected for the competition. The other competitors included respected architectural firms such as Dorte Mandrup Architects, Jarmund/Vigsnaes Architects and Wingårdhs Architects.
The Chairman of the Jury was Lisbeth Nilsson, Project Manager at Kiruna Municipality. The Jury also included representatives from the municipality and the city's cultural community, architects from the mining company LKAB and the Swedish Association of Architects."
In 2004, Sweden's largest mineral group, LKAB, sent a letter to Kiruna Municipality outlining the company's future activities in the area. Calculations had shown that within a few years, mining would affect the underground beneath Kiruna's city centre to such a degree that it would be necessary to replace the city district with a new one. The extraction of minerals from the underground is the basis for Kiruna's existence, and the municipality therefore entered into an agreement about a comprehensive transformation of the city.
A total of 2,500 flats and 200,000 m2 of commercial, office, school and healthcare buildings will have to 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 centre in Kiruna.
The project will be completed in a collaboration between Kiruna Municipality and LKAB. Kiruna Municipality has been responsible for the design competition from its launch to the final decision. The responsibility for the detailed design and construction phase is now passed on to LKAB. Once the city hall is complete, it will be handed back to the municipality, which will assume responsibility for the future operation.
LKAB is an international, high tech mineral group, which extracts iron ore for use in the steel industry. LKAB is responsible for 90 % of all iron ore production within the EU. The group has approx. 4,000 employees in about 30 cities across more than 15 countries.
Kiruna is located in Lapland in Northern Sweden, and it is Sweden's northernmost city. There are approx. 23,000 inhabitants in Kiruna Municipality, which is Sweden's largest municipality in terms of square metres."
Project title: Kiruna's new city hall – ‘The Crystal’
Location: Kiruna, Sweden
Client: Kiruna Municipality and LKAB
Architect: Henning Larsen Architects
Landscape architect: Tema Group Sweden
Consulting engineers: WSP Sweden
Culture design: UiWE
Gross area: 12,000 m2
Construction period: 2013-2016
Type of assignment: Invited, international competition
Find also diagrams and drawings in the image gallery below.