KB Hallen can be torn down

Cultural authorities decide two years later that fire-ravaged facility is too damaged to be rebuilt

Frederiksberg’s KB-Hallen no longer has to be rebuilt as a historic building. Badly damaged by a fire in September 2011 that saw parts of the 3,000-seat complex burn completely to the ground, some experts said at that time that the structure could not be saved.

After two years of wrangling, Kulturstyrelsen, the state cultural agency, has finally decided that the structural integrity of the building was too badly damaged by the fire and it does not have to be rebuilt. That decision frees the building’s owners, the sporting association Kjøbenhavns Boldklub (KB), to rethink the building as a modern sports facility, which has been their hope all along.

KB said that even before the blaze, the hall was hamstrung by the constraints of being designated as a historic building, and that a rebuild in that style would have rendered it virtually useless as a modern facility.

Niels-Christian Holmstrøm, the chairman of KB, said that even before the fire, the building’s age gave it increased trouble in competing with newer venues.

“We needed more handicapped access, better concessions, bigger doors for loading equipment in and out, a better backstage area and modern changing rooms," he told The Copenhagen Post in 2011. "We are worried about having to rebuild the building if it will cost many times as much to preserve designs from 1938 – before rock and roll was even invented.”

KB Hallen was ravaged by fire in 2011 (File photo: Scanpix)Saving as much history as possible
KB has promised that any rebuild will include the parts of the building that were not damaged by the fire. Its engineers have said that the flames were so intense in some sections of the old hall that even the concrete support pylons were destroyed. Investigators said that the fire was started by cardboard boxes that were sat too close to a lit halogen lamp during the set-up of an erotic trade fair. 

Everyone form the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Band, Black Sabbath and even Lady Gaga graced the historic hall’s stage before it burned. 

KB head Niels-Christian Holmstrøm and Frederiksberg's mayor, Jørgen Glenhøj (K), both expressed relief that the hall can now be completely torn down. Holmstrøm said that a historic rebuild would have cost a quarter of a billion kroner.

“At that high a cost, we risked having a burned-out building in the middle of town for many years” Glenhøj told Politiken newspaper. “I think the cultural authorities have made a wise decision.”

Glenhøj said that he hopes a new hall will be built that will attract sporting events, concerts and other arrangements.

There is still a four-week comment period in which protests can be filed against the decision to allow the hall to be razed. KB is conducting a series of workshops for members and other stakeholders to clarify how and when it can move forward with a new hall. Once the decision becomes final, the group says it will start drawing up plans and looking for funding for the new facility.