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On Stop: The buildings that were never finished

We have become familiar with abandoned buildings which were started during the recession and never completed, but now that the green shoots of recovery are beginning to appear, the question is whether they will now be ressurected. At Anderselite, we took a look at some of the amazing projects which were started and are as yet unfinished:

The Sagrada Familia, Spain
Perhaps the most famous of all unfinished buildings is Antoni Gaudi's magnificent cathedral in Barcelona, which has been under construction for the past 130 years and still shows no signs of nearing completion. As with the medieval cathedrals of northern Europe, generations of craftsmen have laboured on its fabric and detail. Many of Gaudi's plans were destroyed after his death in the Spanish Civil War and sadly, funding has been an on-going problem. In previous years, the only source of finance was from donations. It's now classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has benefited from grants to aid its completion.

It's estimated that the cathedral will be finished in 2026, but in 2008 over 400 Spanish artists and intellectuals published a declaration arguing that the building no longer conforms with Gaudi's original artistic vision, is being compromised for the sake of tourism and that construction should cease. Those who hold the opposite view say that it's a reflection of the collaborative construction techniques of so many centuries ago and that work should continue.

The Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea
North Korea's 'Hotel Of Doom' or 'Phantom Hotel' is not something out of Scooby Doo but rather a multi-million-dollar project which was scheduled to open in 1988 to coincide with the Olympics held in Seoul, South Korea, that year. Located at the heart of Pyongyang, it rises like an elongated pyramid 330 metres into the air and comprises 105 storeys, which, if completed, would have made it the tallest hotel in the world at the time. It was intended to be a 3,000-room luxury hotel with five revolving restaurants but after spending at least 2% of its GDP (approximately $426 million) and amidst one of the worst famines the country has ever seen, construction was halted in 1992.

In 2008 the project was restarted, with economic injections from an Egyptian company which has clad the building in glass and steel and refurbished the interior. The North Korean government no longer Photoshop the building out of official photographs but concerns about its construction techniques remain and commentators have cast doubts about its structural integrity.
Szkieletor, Poland
It has no official name, but locals have nicknamed it 'Szkieletor', or 'Skeletor' in English, to reflect its skeletal state. The second-tallest building in Krakow, it stands starkly against the skyline, devoid of life.
It was begun in 1975 and was envisaged as a 92-metre high, 24-storey edifice for the headquarters of the Polish Federation of Engineering Associates.  Political upheaval and economic crises halted its construction six years later.
In 2005 plans were announced to flesh the bones of Szkieletor, but legal battles as to the ownership of the land it's built on have made for slow, if not stagnant, progress. It is visible for miles around, but these days is most frequently used as a giant advertising hoarding, which is probably not something that the communist founders of the country would have approved of.

Sathorn Unique Skyscraper, Thailand
Back in 1997, the economies of the world were booming and developers planned a luxurious Bangkok skyscraper to rival all that had come before. Situated where the old commercial centre meets the high-tech business zone, the building was envisaged to have 49 storeys comprising 659 residential units and 54 retail outlets which would represent the highest standards of luxury available. The reinforced concrete structure was finished and the interior fit-out was taking place, with flooring, bathrooms, wardrobes and second-fit electrics all complete, when the Asian financial crisis struck and building work was halted completely.

Today the fertile soil of the Far East allows vines and creepers to find their insidious way inside the building, undermining the integrity of the concrete superstructure. Packs of wild dogs roam the area and a Buddhist shrine adorns the lobby instead of a reception area, possibly to counteract the tales of ghosts the building has attracted. Far from being the most luxurious building in Bangkok, the Sathorn Unique skyscraper now casts a sad shadow.

But with press headlines gradually becoming more and more positive when it comes to the global economy, at Anderselite we believe there may still be hope for some of the abandoned construction projects around the world. And we know for a fact that there is a wealth of workers just waiting to get started!
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