Hala KDT w czerwcu 2009. Źródło: warszawa.fandom.com, Autor: Kakarakak, Licencja: CC-BY-SA 2.5

A market hall in the shadow of the Palace of Culture. It was built to bring order to the local trade

The company Kupieckie Domy Towarowe, abbreviated to KDT, was established in 1999 by an agreement between the Warsaw authorities and the merchants trading at the time in the bazaar located on Plac Defilad, in the shadow of the Palace of Culture and Science. A temporary, huge hall was built to tidy up the area. The unattractive structure stood in the centre of the capital for several years and managed to blend in with its surroundings. Its dismantling began in the summer of 2009, sparking riots involving, among others, merchants and a security company. The Museum of Modern Art is currently being built on the site of the demolished structure.

Bazar was a breath of the big world for the post-PRL economy. In the beginning, people traded from pillow-beds, then “jaws” appeared, i.e. tin booths resembling huge suitcases. In 1991, some of the stalls were replaced by two market halls more than a hundred metres long: a white and blue one and a white and red one. In the early 1990s, the bazaar was one of the most popular places in Warsaw. It was not only Poles who traded here, but also Russians who were looking for opportunities to make easy money.

Bazar in the 1990s Source: Social Archive of Warsaw (www.tubylotustalo.pl/spoleczne-archiwum)

It was a unique place where you could get literally anything. A few years later, as part of an agreement between the city authorities and merchants, a special hall for Kupieckich Domów Towarowych (KDT) was built. The tin building with an area of over 10,000 square metres was built between April and October 2001 to a design by the FS&P Arcus studio. It was 180 m long, up to 90 m wide and up to 18 m high. The retail space was divided into more than 600 stalls, and a radio and information broadcasting system and a CCTV system were set up in the hall. However, the structure was a temporary solution.

Hala KDT in June 2009. Source: warszawa.fandom.com, Author: Kakarakak, License: CC-BY-SA 2.5

The city, planning the development of Plac Defilad, sought to demolish the hall and move the merchants to another location. This was because a link between the first and second metro lines was to run underneath the site of the hall, with the Museum of Modern Art planned to be built in its place. The ten-year lease agreement expired at the end of December 2008. The takeover of the property planned for 1 January 2009 failed due to resistance from the merchants working in the hall. According to KDT, the contract still had force – there was a provision that the hall was a transitional facility to operate until the construction of the department store.

Defilad Square as seen from the Palace of Culture in 2007 and 2019. Photo I, Hiuppo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons and Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A real department store was included in the plans for the development of the square; it was to be built between Marszałkowska Street and the Palace of Culture and Science, south of the planned Museum of Modern Art. In the end, construction did not take place. The city authorities proposed to the KDT employees to relocate the trade to Hala Gwardii, but the company’s management rejected this proposal. on 21 July 2009, the execution of the court verdict ruling the eviction took place. During the action organised on behalf of the bailiff by a security company, riots with merchants, as well as with pseudo football fans, took place. The city’s actions around the company aroused controversy among Warsaw residents.

At the end of 2009, demolition of the hall began, the skeleton of which was gone by mid-June the following year. The contract for the construction of the Museum of Modern Art was signed in 2019. The new building will be part of the completely new Central Square.

Source: warszawa.naszemiasto.pl, warszawa.fandom.com

Read also: Architecture in Poland | City | Curiosities | History | Warsaw

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