Interdesign Sweden 2009

City Move, Gällivare (Sweden)

22 March – 3 April 2009

‘City Move’, the 43rd Icsid Interdesign in 38 years, took place from 22 March – 3 April 2009 in the Municipality of Gällivare, Lapland, Sweden. Hosted by Icsid Member, The Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID), 38 participants from seventeen different countries explored the answer to the following questions:

  • How can a city be relocated?
  • How can people be involved in the process?
  • What has design got to do with it?


A brief was presented in advance of the workshops, including information from the political leaders from the Municipality of Gällivare at the opening of the workshop.

“The town of Malmberget is a part of Gällivare municipality and for nearly 40 years it has been involved in a drawn out and, at times, painful moving process as a result of the expansion of the mining industry. The current community is suffering as empty buildings and the gradual deterioration into a slum has negatively affected quality of life.

Increasingly residents of Malmberget are forced to move from their apartments and homes to other areas. It is difficult to say how long this process will continue. It is clear, however, that increasing numbers of residents will be affected in the coming years. Since the 1970s the population has fallen by more than half and today Malmberget has about 6,000 residents.

Many have chosen to move to apartments in the town of Gällivare Others have chosen to even move their house to a new location that is, for the most part, away from areas affected by the mine. Both alternatives involve a more or less voluntary move event though they are still unwanted changes. Unfortunately, the situation is such that many have chosen to move to another town.

The uncertainty of the mine’s future direction creates insecurity among residents, a situation that risks conflicts on many levels. The vision is that Malmberget and Gällivare prior to, during and after the move will be safe, attractive communities with a high quality of life.

We want people to want to move to the new settings without feeling they are forced to. We want a community that is attractive, that has a range of services and that offers opportunities that make people want to move here. We want to integrate current and recently arrived residents with newcomers to the community. This process that will lead to our new community is characterised by thoughtful use of nature’s resources and long-term sustainability.

Now we need your help in creating a community where people want to live and want to move to, and which serves as a model for the rest of the world.”

Outcomes and results

Over the two-week period, the six groups of students, academics, professors, consultants and experienced professionals from ‘co-design’ and multi-faceted fields and skill sets collaborated to address this local problem with global significance, to bring a better quality of life for all of those affected. Participants invested personal and professional experience into the workshop, tackling results and processes, and leaving a positive legacy behind after their short two-week time in the local community.

Overall the workshops were a great success and the pre-planning, organisation and delivery from the host organisation, SVID, was outstanding.

Through these workshops and presentations, the groups identified broad visions, processes and possible solutions. Workshop results were firmly based on the real experiences of local people living in the situation.

The final presentations were printed and presented in an exhibition open to members of the public and invited guests. One group presented an artistic-scientific project, which showed a visionary idea as part of the workshop. The object reflects sunlight to areas left shaded. School pupils were involved in building and launching the project during the workshop. This project was one stage of the workshop group called “Feel free: Organise” who engaged in capturing imaginations and infusing events to open up perceptions and introduce different experiences.

As a result of the final workshop presentations, the initiative gained the support of the local mining company, LKAB. Likewise a action group was initiated by local community members in order to ensure the longevity of the initiative once the workshop was complete.

The participant’s demonstrated a very high quality of work and dedication to their group roles. The professionalism of their final presentations and creative achievements were very impressive. The Interdesign participants were adamant to include the experiences shared by the local community, and many of these personal insights were reflected in the workshop findings. The international collaborations and experiences brought unique and new insight to the Interdesign problem.

All of the results and documentation from the workshop will become a part of the City Move Innovation Centre, showing how the process could be used in Sweden but also be adapted and implemented in similar areas around the world. This knowledge bank will provide information for city planners and designers in order to stimulate cooperation between different stakeholders.

Creation of post-Interdesign project ‘The New Gällivare’

In January 2010, Swedish-based participant, Lars Albinsson, (Consultant & Researcher) was appointed by the Municipal Council of Gällivare and local mining company LKAB to head up the post-Interdesign project ‘The New Gällivare’, an initiative to explore the future possibilities and aspirations of residents and local businesses.