Copenhagen’s Historic Palads Theater Is One Step Closer To Corporate Rebuild   

Town hall decision moves plans forward to activists’ dismay 

By Diego Leong and Benedicte Højsgaard Christiansen 

On Thursday April 18, Copenhagen’s Municipality had a vote in the town hall that brought the Historic Palads Cinema one step closer to a near-complete rebuild. The Civil Representation voted in favor of starting a document that could lead to a new zoning plan for the cinema if not challenged.  

Nordisk Film and Egmont Group, the current owners of Palads, plan to convert the theater into a multi-use building that creates rentable office space on top, with a modernized cinema in a new deeper basement. 

The owners claim their renewal of Palads solves the financial challenges it has faced due to it being an outdated facility. Nordisk Film says that a renewal creating a modern and more financially sustainable building would allow the historic building to stay open. 

The plans for the Palads rebuild. Photo by COBE.

But some activists and politicians, like Troels Christian Jakobsen of the Alternative party are not convinced Nordisk Film’s plans are in the best interest of the building: 

“It’s not the politicians’ duty to make sure that this company can keep making money as they want. If the building is too small for the kind of business they want to make, they can sell the building and find a bigger one in that place.”  

Jakobsen greeted the members of the “Preserve Palads” (Danish: Bevar Palads) social media activist movement outside the town hall. Like the people from that movement, he is against a large transformation of the Palads theater.  

At the hearing different politicians stated their opinions on Palads. Troels Christian Jakobsen took the stand several times but did not end up convincing his colleges. An hour into the vote, a majority 36-18 voted to begin drafting the zoning document, bringing Nordisk Film’s renewal plans closer to reality. 

The renewed sketch proposal of “Classic Palads”. Photo by Nordisk Film and COBE. 

Jep Loft is the chairman of the Architectural Uprising in Denmark and has been passionate about Palads for years when writing articles on Architectural Uprising’s website.  

“Well, Palads is such a strange building, and it’s a building you’ll never get again. Once you tear it down, there’s never going to be a new one like it. How many buildings do you have in Copenhagen or in Denmark like that that are unique in their own way? Very few, maybe less than 100.” 

Louise Kongsted, a proponent of the Preserve Palads movement, arrived at the town hall before the vote with flyers and a homemade banner. 

“I think that it’s a really, really big mistake to set a precedent for tearing down functional buildings when we’re in the middle of a climate crisis” she said. 

“A lot of politicians, even the ones… who are trying to tear down Palads, are proclaiming values of like Copenhagen needs to be a front runner of climate change.” 

This decision comes right after the Copenhagen landmark, Børsen, made international headlines after it caught fire and collapsed on Tuesday, April 16. 

“Copenhagen has its charm and its visual identity from the mix of old and new… It won’t keep being there if we continue to remove it. And it doesn’t have to be 400 years old and created by a king to be protected” Kongsted said. 

The Palads cinema has been around since 1912. It was bought and thought of by the filmmaker Constantin Philipsen. Originally the former main train station in Copenhagen, it became an amusement establishment. 

“And then it’s such a strange show, fantastic building. When you come inside, you see the staircase, and you see the ceiling, and the floor. It’s absolutely something that will never come back. Nobody could have thought to make a thing like that again today.” says Jep Loft. 

It will take two more rounds of voting on the proposed zoning plan before Nordisk Films’ renewal of Palads begins.