7 Famous Unfinished Buildings in History

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Ever since ancient times, man has been improvising his surroundings as per his requirements. He always craves for two things in life: first shelter and then, luxury. Many architectural structures have been erected throughout the history of mankind, reflecting the values, ideas and history of the place and time.

These structures are not just concrete and steel, but also dreams and ambitions. However, not all these structures managed to embody the aspirations of its creators. Throughout history, there have been many buildings which were planned but never completed.

Following is a list of 7 famous unfinished buildings all around the world:

1) RYUGYONG HOTEL

Location; Pyongyang, North Korea

The construction of this 105 storey luxury hotel started in 1987 by the North Korean construction firm Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers. It was advertised to be the tallest hotel in the world. With revolving restaurants and ballrooms, royal accommodations, and all the luxuries North Korea had to offer, this hotel was to be a paradise. However, what was supposed to be a source of pride and symbol of excellence for North Korea soon turned into a burden.

The hotel was estimated to be completed by 1992, but many problems arose. Due to materials being delayed and the building methods of the firm, the hotel was never completed. The hotel sat untouched for decades. But in 2008, the construction resumed with the help of Orascom Group, an Egyptian construction company.

By 2011, the exterior of the building was completed with exterior glass panels being installed. The hotel was supposed to open in 2013, however, it was postponed yet again. The economic crisis of the country halted the construction once more. Finally, in 2017 some work at the heavily guarded site resumed. Huge LED panels were set on one side of the hotel by 2018 which played various movie scenes, animations and displayed the North Korean flag.

In 2019, a sign with the name and logo of the hotel was put on the top of the structure.  It has been 33 years and yet the project remains incomplete. The worth of this project was estimated to be around $750 million.

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2) THE PALACE OF THE SOVIETS

Location; Moscow, Russia.

The main purpose of the construction of this building was to build an administrative centre- cum- congress for the representatives of the member states of the Soviet Union. The building was to be built on the site of ‘The Cathedral of Christ the saviour’ after demolishing it.
The construction started in 1937. An architectural contest for the design of the building was organized. It was won by Boris Iofan and later this building was redesigned to be a skyscraper by Iofan, Vladimir Shchuko and Vladimir Gelfreikh. If completed, this majestic structure would have been the tallest skyscraper at that time.

However, when the Nazi army invaded the western Soviet Union in 1941, the construction was forcibly halted. The project was thereafter, dropped and the steel frames from this half-built structure were dismantled and used for other purposes, like building bridges and fortifications.

In 1958, the foundations of the palace were converted into a round open-air pool, called the Moskva Pool. Designs for several museums to be built on the site were submitted however, the construction of these museums were never initiated. At last, it was decided that the Cathedral would be rebuilt on the same site.

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3) DEUTSCHES STADION

Location; Nuremberg, Germany.

It has been 82 years since the first stone of the stadium was laid by Adolf Hitler at Nuremberg. The Deutsches Stadion (Different from the one in Berlin) was set to be built as the largest stadium in the world. The stadium was a mirror to the dictator’s ambition. A mix of roman and german ideas, the architect Albert Speer ditched the typical oval shape and went with a horse-shoe like design for the stadium.

However, before the construction of the original stadium began, a ‘test’ stadium with a one-tenth capacity of the original structure was to be built in the small village of Achtel. Adolf Hitler himself along with his architect Albert Speer arrived to inaugurate the construction of the prototype one of the largest Olympic stadiums in the world.

The original structure was designed to hold over 400,000 spectators. It was to be 2,625ft long and 1,476ft wide. The construction of the original and the test stadium was halted due to the Second World War and was never resumed. It has now been preserved as a historical site.

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4) WOODCHESTER MANSION

Location; Nympsfield, Gloucestershire, England.

This 19th century Victorian Gothic-styled mansion is situated in Nympsfield, Gloucestershire, England. The manor is surrounded by large green lands which were originally brought to be turned into a deer park. It has been passed on from one owner to another, however, it has managed to remain unfinished till date.

The construction of this building started in the year 1858. The building appears to be completed from the outside but from the inside, you will find just unfinished floors, plaster and a few whole rooms missing. The construction was stopped when the builders left the mansion in 1870 and it has remained abandoned since then.

The Woodchester mansion is also rumoured to be haunted. The lands around the mansion have been turned into “Woodchester park” which is open to the public. The manor itself is also open to the public. The house has been used in various shows and was featured in BBC’s Dracula (2006).

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5) MARBLE HILL NUCLEAR PLANT

Location; Indiana, USA.

This might be considered one of the biggest screw-ups in the history of architecture. With an estimated expenditure of about 700 million USD, the marble hill nuclear plant’s construction started in 1977. It was to provide employment and prosperity to the people of Indiana. However, minor accident in Pennsylvania nuclear plant leads to withdrawal of public support from the project.

As the construction continued, the costs of the project skyrocketed to a whopping 2.5 billion USD. Surprisingly, after spending $2.5 billion on this project, the clients just put their hands up and left, stating that it was getting expensive to them. Currently, this plant is owned by an unrecognized Michigan based company and has been undergoing demolition.

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6) AJUDA NATIONAL PALACE

Location; Lisbon, Portugal.

After earthquakes wreaked havoc on the city of Lisbon, causing widespread destruction, the construction of the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda (national palace of Ajuda) was started. It was meant to be a public attraction and also a residence to the Portuguese royal family. The lavish palace was to be the largest in Europe.

The construction began in the year 1796 following a modern neo-classical design. However, Napoleon’s invasion in 1806 led to the exile of the Portuguese royal family, bringing the construction to a standstill. The construction resumed during the reign of King Luis I but was never completed owing to the poor financial conditions. Even though the Portuguese royal family occupied the palace, it remained incomplete.
Today it can be seen as a half-built building functioning as a museum. Two floors of the palace are open for the public to see.

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7) CINCINNATI SUBWAY

Location; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

The people of Cincinnati once dreamed of a public transportation system. Unfortunately, that dream could never be turned into reality due to the great depression, world war II and the escalating costs of the project. Today it is considered as one of the biggest embarrassment for the city.

6 million USD was granted for the project. However, due to WW I, the completion was delayed. By 1919, the cost of the project doubled to 12-13 million USD. However, WW II caused the construction of the subway system to be postponed.

There were some attempts made to complete the project. However, the plan never showed any ‘feasibility’ and the construction was abandoned for once and for all. it now serves as a shelter for the homeless.

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AUTHOR BIO

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RIMU PATIL

Hi, my name is Rimu Patil and I am a computer science graduate. I love reading and cooking. I have an obsession with history; anything related to history intrigues me. I want to make people understand that history is exciting and not boring. I want to travel the world and learn more about the history and world cuisine.

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