Unit 04: Building Laboratory | Frozen Timber

Unit brief

Building Laboratory | Frozen Timber

“Cities don’t often decide to pack their bags, get up and move down the road. But that’s exactly what Kiruna, an Arctic town in northern Sweden, is having to do – to avoid being swallowed up into the Earth.” (Oliver Wainwright – The Guardian).

Unit 04 aims to participate in the debate on environmental adaptation, design and development of the new town of Kiruna, which is forced to move three kilometres to the east of its current location. The renowned town plan from the early twentieth century and its location is usurped by the mining operations in the world’s largest iron-ore mine. The new town plan housing the 14,000 displaced inhabitants of Kiruna is based on the Swedish architectural practice White’s competition winning entry.

We travel to Kiruna to visit the iron-ore mine, the site of the old and the new town, as well as the famous ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi and the Esrange Space Agency. We aim to work on a few different sites in the new town plan using our expertise in engineered timber construction (Cross Laminated Timber and Laminated Timber) suitable for arctic forestry combined with an interest in medium to large scale public buildings and climatic adaptation.

Unit 04 strives for an arctic architecture adapted to both the natural landscape, the extreme climate, as well as the limited local resources in the spirit of Ralph Erskine, or the proactive and visionary use of technology inspired by Frei Otto, Ewald Bubner, Kenzo Tange and ARUP’s Arctic City (1971).

We continue exploring 3D scanning, digital design modelling and game engine technology in the creation of immersive virtual environments capable of capturing the complexity of the contextual situation. We aim to deploy virtual reality not only as an immersive representational opportunity, but also as a design apparatus permitting design experimentation in a first person view free of scalar considerations with the aim of large scale physical output.

Some further reading:

An image of Kiruna in Sweden


Course Professional Diploma in Architecture - RIBA 2 (now Architecture RIBA 2 MArch)

Jonas LundbergEva Diu
Andrew Grant


Goulston StreetRoom GSG-18a

When Monday and Thursday

Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA part II)