1000 homes to be built on toxic land at Scharins?

13 architectural proposals for how to transform the Scharins area into a residential area have been received. "It's great to have the opportunity to reuse land that is centrally located, close to the city, and with important workplaces nearby," says councillor Evelina Fahlesson (S).

Six of the architectural proposals. Top row from left: Älvsia, Live by the Sawmill and Earthship. Bottom row from left: Influencerälv, Bruksbyn and Hej granne.

Six of the architectural proposals. Top row from left: Älvsia, Live by the Sawmill and Earthship. Bottom row from left: Influencerälv, Bruksbyn and Hej granne.

Foto: Montage: Europan17

Ursviken2023-10-09 11:08

All 13 architectural firms' proposals are now on public display. On Friday, the exhibition premiered at the city hall and on the city's website.

– The Scharins area can flourish again. Making land available for housing is important for Skellefteå's further development, says Fahlesson.

The exhibition is part of the municipality's participation in the Europan17 architecture competition. The competition is aimed at young architects (under 40 years old), who have developed their proposals in groups. The aim is to reuse land and make plots available for increased housing construction in a place that has long been abandoned, because of its toxic soil.

We see that the proposals emphasize different aspects. Some focus on the proximity to the river, while others emphasize the urban location or planning for a whole village. Meanwhile many recommend the use of phytoremediation, a process by which living plants are used to clean up soil, air and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants.

The idea is to build more than a thousand homes in the area. The site used to be a paper mill. The mill closed in the early 1980s and the land was contaminated. The land has been cleaned for 18 years, and 7,000 tons of soil have been removed.

– Scharins, the area to be used, covers 30 hectares, and 20 hectares have been cleaned. There are parts that have not been industrial areas. But there is still some contamination, about half a meter below the surface. It is a challenge for the architects to solve. But we have seen successful construction on old industrial sites, such as Hammarby Sjöstad, says planning manager Lars Hedqvist.

All 13 proposals are now on display until November 5. They will also be on display at Folkets Hus in Ursviken from October 9-13, where an open day with a question and answer session will be held.

What happens next with the proposals?

– The winner will be announced on December 4. It is a European jury that selects the winner, and Skellefteå municipality is not involved in this process. The intention is not that the municipality will implement the proposal as it is, but it's an idea that will be developed further. Next year we will decide what to do, says Hedqvist.

All the proposals were named by the participants themselves, and below is a very brief description of each one.


Bruksbyn. "As a tribute to the once important industries and port of the area, historical traces and characteristic details can be found in the village. The natural qualities and local climate have been enhanced and strengthened to benefit both people and ecosystems. The vibrant village and the beautiful nature of the site are being recreated, enhanced and brought back to life".


Earthship. "The project focuses on environmental adaptation, human integration, and resilience. We have developed a radical idea that may seem out of touch with the world as it is now. But as a wise person once said, "Today's utopias are tomorrow's realities."


Älvsia. "New building principles and new ways of living, alongside water and nature. By creating new meeting places, we aim for Älvsia to become an integral part of Ursviken and the entire region. A vibrant, urban place that thrives in harmony with nature.

Live by the sawmill.

Live by the sawmill. "Takes into account the site's history while developing and strengthening Skellefteå's position as a leading timber city. Through an abstract and associative concept, residential areas with a diverse range of homes and attractive public spaces are created."


Mjuklandning. "The buildings are elevated on pillars, and pipes and cables are exposed above ground. The top layer of soil, once decontaminated, is sculpted to create an open stormwater management system that includes phytoremediation to further enhance the area."

Hello neighbor.

Hello neighbor. "From integrating the surrounding landscape to creating local habitats for animals and microorganisms, resulting in an area centered around meeting places, a space where you can meet your neighbor - both people and animals, as well as nature."

Octopus enigma.

Octopus enigma. "Central to this vision is the concept of treating the landscape as infrastructure to protect ecosystems. The main focus is on intelligent urban planning and thoughtful reflection, promoting a compassionate society that lives in harmony with nature and works toward a sustainable and interconnected future."


Safescape. "Historical traces from the industrial past are given new significance and transformed into a comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle-oriented backbone that connects the area's priorities of safety, coherence, ecology, and mobility. The activated riverfront is intended for public space and recreation."

Nordic Nexus.

Nordic nexus. "Our project aims to create a vibrant, self-sustaining neighborhood. Our vision is to build a thriving community that welcomes new members, restores the land, and promotes social interaction through well-integrated communal spaces and mixed-use buildings."

Toolkit for a living city.

Toolkit for a living city. "The solution, built upon contaminated land, includes phytoremediation and grid-based urban platforms on pillars where buildings can be situated. Five platforms are proposed, four on land and one on water, with distinct identities based on the public buildings they house, all primarily constructed of cross-laminated timber."

Influencer river.

Influencer flod. "We embrace the river's flows and constant changes while also welcoming the modern needs of urbanization, attempting to create a fair and ethical dialogue between the two. The site becomes a stage for the story of a river and the story of people living with the river."

Journeys of care.

Journeys of care. "The urban journey encompasses various types of housing with access to cultural activities. The natural journey forms a green corridor connecting a creek with a dense birch forest to provide weather protection and access to water. The regenerative journey allows exploration of the phytoremediation gardens with vegetation."

Urban healing.

Urban healing. "At the heart of the project lies the concept of a green corridor seamlessly weaving through the area. The project's innovative approach involves establishing a remediation forest and greenhouse that play a crucial role in cleansing the site. A diverse mix of typologies and services with recreational opportunities."

The architectural proposals for the Scharinsområdet are now on display. Municipal councilor Evelina Fahlesson (S) and planning chief Lars Hedqvist hope that many will take the opportunity to view the proposals.
The architectural proposals for the Scharinsområdet are now on display. Municipal councilor Evelina Fahlesson (S) and planning chief Lars Hedqvist hope that many will take the opportunity to view the proposals.