Would You Like a Shvitz in a Golden Egg at the Top of the World?

You shoulda seen the goose.

May 10, 2017 9:00 am

Here’s the short of it:

Kiruna, Sweden has a giant golden egg-shaped sauna that’s attracting attention far and wide. It’s a space designed by Studio Bigert & Bergström for locals or northbound tourists to partake in the region’s traditional bathing culture, which has a social element to it. The shiny egg holds eight people and has an iron wood-fired anatomical heart-shaped stove at its center.

And look how gold it is!

A few miles north of the Arctic Circle and home to the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel, historic Kiruna has become a tourist destination in addition to being a resource-rich area massively important to Sweden’s GDP.

The problem is that Kiruna is at risk of collapse due to the extensive mining of the area’s iron deposits (they have the deepest mine in the world at 3,600 feet). That is, ostensibly, why the entire town is being moved to provide access to the resources beneath it.

And that’s where the debates begin. The town is historic, with many 100-plus-year-old buildings that realistically will be scrapped for parts in putting together the new Town Square and neighborhoods. Mining is an objectively destructive act, complicated by the fact that it is the source of wealth and sustenance for mankind. This is no different in Kiruna. Environmental degradation on one hand, resources to live on the other.

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So, back to the egg. It was commissioned by Riksbyggen, a co-operative economic association that is responsible for about a tenth of the housing built in Sweden. And since the entire move has been contentious, the thinking was that this public project would open discussions among the locals.

From the firm responsible: “The egg shape seeks to symbolize rebirth and new opportunities at the start of Kiruna’s urban transformation, a project that involves the relocation of entire city districts in response to ground subsidence caused by decades of iron ore mining.”

With all this in mind, I can’t help but think of one of Aesop’s Fables “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs,” which ends with the moral “Greed often overreaches itself.”

Alternate translation: “Those who have plenty want more and so lose all they have.”

Alternate alternate translation: “Don’t be a dummy, dummy.”

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