Iron ore is a major income source for Sweden, and is Kiruna’s economic lifeblood. A rich seam of ore runs downward diagonally through the town, and the only way to continue mining is to move the whole town and its 18,000-plus residents. Therefore, the town is moving east, and a new masterplan created by architectural firm White Arkitetker is being developed.
Kiruna’s residents were afraid relocating the entire town would devastate their community spirit. That’s when Swedish developer Riksbyggen commissioned artists Bigert and Bergstrom to build a space for townspeople to unite and talk.
The result from the commission is Solar Egg, a golden, egg-shaped sauna. The striking edifice is a place where residents can meet to debate and discuss climate, sustainable community development, and any other concerns.
“Saunas are sacrosanct places where you can discuss all manner of things — from the big to the small,” according to Artist Mats Bigert.
Solar Egg stands approximately 16 feet high and has a 13-foot diameter. The exterior is covered with 69 pieces of gold-plated stainless steel sheets. Inside, pine floor and walls and aspen benches surround the sauna’s human heart-shaped wood stove made of iron and stone. According to the artists, the stove keeps the interior heated between 167 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
Residents enter the Solar Egg via stairs on a doorway that lowers like a drawbridge. The sauna’s two-tiered seating has room for as many as eight people at a time to discuss matters of interest large and small with other people from Kiruna.