B&W Hallerne - From industrial stronghold to Eurovision venue

B&W Hallerne - From industrial stronghold to Eurovision venue
B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen. Photo: Jan Jørgensen (Scanpix)
Copenhagen, Denmark -

Two halls from the 1960s and 15,000 square metres in size have been selected as the venue for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Refshaleøen has gone from being a workers' stronghold to a cultural haven.

When the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest takes place on Refshaleøen (a.k.a. Eurovision Island) in Copenhagen, it will be held in what was once Denmark's biggest workplace.

It was the Danish shipyard Burmeister & Wain (B&W) who in the early 60s built two halls, which at the time were used to construct ships.

This comes from Niels Jul Nielsen, who researches the industrial society of the 20th century at the University of Copenhagen and who has also published a book about B&W.

New construction method

"The story of the two gigantic halls goes back to the 1950s when B&W started to change the way in which it built ships. They decided to start building ships in sections after which these were joined together in the dock. That's why the two halls were built, where steel was sent in one end and sections of the ship were sent out the other", he says.

This method meant that B&W became the world's leading shipyard, and that the halls on Refshaleøen because Denmark's largest work place with between 2000 and 3000 employees.

In its time as a shipyard, the island was affected by the many workers, who were known for leaning to the left and supporting the Social Democrats. Often so far to the left that the Social Democrats had to consider whether or not it was a good idea for them to visit the workers, explains Jacob Bjerring-Hansen, administrative director of the Bornholm Museum and a previous employee of the Workers Museum.

Niels Jul Nielsen has come to the same conclusion.

B&W Hallerne under construction in the 1960s. Photo: DieselHouse Å

Coffee breaks and the Soviets

"It was an anarchistic place. The worders held coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon, even though it wasn't contractual. This led to management installing coffee stands inside the halls so the supervisor could control it better".

He adds that even the Soviets were aware of Refshaleøen and its union representatives and that is probably also one of the reasons why the Soviets made a number of ship orders with B&W.

After B&W declared bankruptcy in 1996, Refshaleøen's Property Company was established and is now responsible for hiring out the premises on the island. Since then a number of creative businesses and cultural events have moved in, which has led to the two halls now containing storage for The Royal Theatre and a paintballing facility. The contents of the halls will now be removed and the area made ready for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Even though the two halls, which are some of Denmark's biggest buildings, aren't designed for concerts, administrative director for Refshaleøen's Property Company, Christian Herskind, says that the sound will be good.

Property Company - The sound will be good

"We have carried out many tests in the halls and all of them conclude that we will achieve a good level (of sound). So there is no reason to be concerned", he says.

Niels Jul nielsen thinks that the choice of Refshaleøen and the two halls can be developed into something exciting because the area contains so much history that can actively be used in the Eurovision show.

Refshaleøen has for some time hosted Copenhell, Distortion and a number of other festivals and concerts.

The 2014 Eurovision Song Contest will be held at the B&W Hallerne on Refshaleøen in Copenhagen on 6th, 8th and 10th of May.

There are 10 comments

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  • Posted on 15 September 2013 at 06:10
    I didn't say it should be mandatory, contestants would be free to choose backing tracks or to have a combination of it and an orchestra. There is an interview of Tin Spanja you might want to read (google it, it's on escunited) mentions at the bottom of the interview that some musicians are actually accustomed to making their songs playable on orchestras. Also there are more intesting points you might want to read before deciding the orchestra is a bad idea. It's not meant to disable modern pop songs, it is meant to add variety to other more complex songs that participate, or those who actually put effort in their music. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 13 September 2013 at 00:53
    please no orchestra
    todays music is not to be played with an orchestra loreen would not sound like she did at the festival
    and if our armin van buuren gets his ticket it would not sound great too report to the moderator
  • Posted on 10 September 2013 at 19:29
    It would be great if they would opt to bring back the orchestra for sure. If you think alike please write in this petition: http://www.esclivemusic.com/
    Make your voice heard, the more write in, the more chances there are for the EBU to finally bring back the orchestra and make it optional for each contestant (at least) report to the moderator
  • Posted on 7 September 2013 at 12:11
    I'm glad this place is in Copenhagen but a FACTORY, really? I would say use both the big hall for the stage and the audience, and the smaller one for Confrence's, dressing rooms and the green room and other stuff like that.

    I think it was a bit of a bad choice, not sure :/ report to the moderator
  • Posted on 6 September 2013 at 17:11
    The whole concept looks interesting except the sound issue, but it'll be fixed up in the months to come. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 5 September 2013 at 12:13
    well i hope they make good bus connection to island. Only one bus number 40 isnt enough!! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 4 September 2013 at 18:17
    Well good luck Euro-fans.
    You will never get to know the rest of Denmark, but will get to know us as for a rusty shipyeard on an isolated island, surrounded by extremely expensive hotels, rude people and construction mess. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 4 September 2013 at 07:23
    Brrrr, for the moment the place is looking like a "Swedish Thriller" ( in the books !), I hope that they will make a good job to clean up the place !!! report to the moderator
  • Posted on 3 September 2013 at 19:46
    I am looking forward to be seeing the transformation of this place! I don't want to see one streak of rust. report to the moderator
  • Posted on 3 September 2013 at 19:42
    Personally not a good choice of venue, I am happy that Copenhagen was chosen but DR could have looked at say the Forum in Copenhagen which hosted the anniversary show in 2005. I know it was not on the list of bids but would have been a far better choice than a dilapidated ship yard. report to the moderator