This article can also be read in Swedish.
The municipality of Kiruna has 22 600 residents. Approximately 6000 people living in the Kiruna urban area need to be relocated before 2035.
A number of cultural buildings have been carefully moved to be preserved. Apart from that, a big part of the project is about new constructions. The city center is being moved about three kilometers.
There, new shopping districts are taking shape together with a mix of rental apartments, condominiums, hotels and public buildings. Private residential houses are also being built in many parts of Kiruna.
The town hall “Kristallen” is finished, and people have already moved into some of the apartments. The relocation of the iconic church will start in 2025.
Some of the apartments being built are modules constructed at Lindbäcks Bygg in Piteå. At one of them we meet painters Markku, Roger and Liam of the Kiruna company Målbygg AB.
I’m looking forward to seeing what all of this is going to look like ten years from now.
Markku is displeased with the piece rates.
–They have to be increased, or people will stop doing piece work, he says.
The building modules require less treatment, rendering piece work extra useless. Because of this, he and his colleagues work on fixed time salaries instead.
Roger owns the company, and his son Liam accompanies him as a high school trainee. He is the only student in his class studying to become a painter – the other 19 classmates belong to the Construction programme.
The fact that so few teenagers are attracted to painting is a growth problem for the industry.
Rickard Johansson and Tobias Rånes work at the painting company Sandfridssons, and they are both spending several nights away from home during this assignment. They live in Älvsbyn, 340 kilometers away, and commute weekly by train.
– The work is good, it’s just that it’s far away, Rickard Johansson says.
He doesn’t reflect much on the fact that he’s working on a historic city relocation – to him it’s just another construction job.
– But I’m looking forward to seeing what all of this is going to look like ten years from now, he says.
They work at a rapid pace and get appropriately paid, in accordance with the piece rates.
Rickard Johansson is wearing an ergonomic headrest, and explains why:
– A colleague of mine told me that he has always been wearing one, and that he has never had any problems with his neck. That’s why I’m wearing it, and this far I’ve done okay.
In the municipality of Gällivare, the urban transformation project has taken a different shape. There, the mining town of Malmberget is being completely dismantled, while the city of Gällivare is being densified and developed.
Large parts of Malmberget have already been moved away. All in all, approximately 3200 people are in need of new housing as a consequence of the urban transformation project.
On a constructions site belonging to modular housing manufacturer Lindbäcks, we find the company’s own painters occupied with the completion of one of the public good house properties.
They’re continuously traveling alongside the house building project like a traveling circus.
Gustav Nilsson hasn’t been working at the company for more than four weeks.
Spending nights away from home for work doesn’t leave much room for free time. Back at home, however, he is in the process of renovating his house – so that is how his weekends are spent.
Stig Öberg has been working as a travelling painter for a long time. Usually, he works at Lindbäck’s real estate section, but since a larger workforce was needed in Gällivare, he has switched over temporarily.
– In winter it’s hard spending nights away for work. During one period I worked in Stockholm, which is good since one can fly there, says Stig Öberg.
One of the advantages of painting the house factory’s modular homes, he says, is the absence of concrete, wood and plaster.
During this assignment, many of the walls are to be painted white. Every now and then, however, there is some color and the occasional wallpapered background wall. Stig Öberg predicts that wallpaper is in for a renaissance.
Text: Helena Forsberg
Translation: Chris Smedbakken