Stunning memory park for moved Swedish town

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Stunning memory park for moved Swedish town
/he snow-covered structures mark the foundations of the demolished town. Photo:Ricard Estay/Public Art Agency Sweden

What happens when an entire town is knocked down and relocated? In Kiruna, Sweden's most northerly town, a 'memory park' has been created from the rubble as a monument to residents' feelings of loss.


The western side of Kiruna is eerily silent. A thick layer of snow covers structures which mark the outlines of houses, schools and shops which once stood there, but were demolished earlier this year. This is the world's first 'memoryscape' park, using debris from the demolition to commemorate a town which is slowly being moved eastwards.

The move is due to safety concerns that mining beneath the town could cause cracks in buildings and pose a safety risk to residents. Any areas of the city threatened by collapse are either being knocked down or moved 3km east, so that state-controlled mining company LKAB can continue its underground expansion.

Demolition of the first of buildings began in Kiruna in April this year, kicking off the start of a huge 20-year project, which will see 3,000 apartments, schools and businesses knocked down. 

When The Local spoke to some of the town’s residents last year, feelings were mixed. Some didn’t mind losing their houses. Many were pragmatic and acknowledged that the mine was a huge source of employment. But others admitted they would miss the streets they had grown up on once they were swallowed up by the mine. 

Meanwhile Public Art Agency Sweden, the city of Kiruna and LKAB came up with a solution to the feelings of loss in the form of the park. 

Three Swedish artists, Sofia Sundberg, Karl Tuikkanen and Ingo Vetter, have worked on the project, using demolition waste to recreate the old foundations of houses and buildings. By putting crushed bricks and concrete in steel cages, they have built a kind of ghost town.

For now, residents can walk through the park but, as the project goes on, it will eventually be closed to visitors when it is in the danger zone of the mine. The structures will remain visible for decades as a monument to the residents’ memories of their lost city.

Keep reading to see photos of the park being built and what it looks like now

Workmen start on the construction of the park.

Steel cages are filled with the debris left by the demolition.

The park forms a 'buffer' between the mines and the rebuilt city.

Under the snow, the sculptures look like forgotten ruins.

The sun sets over the sculptures.

The sculptures mark out the foundations of the buildings which once stood there.

Bricks and pieces of cement fill the cages.

All photos: Ricard Estay/Public Art Agency Sweden


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