The Biggest Unfinished Construction Projects in History

The Biggest Unfinished Construction Projects in History

27th December 2019

Finishing a large construction project can be hard work. Yet, most of them are completed at one point or another. The following are a few of the most famous exceptions, as these iconic buildings are famous for being unfinished.

Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, Spain 

Probably the most famous unfinished construction of all, this mammoth basilica started life in 1882. Antoni Gaudí took over the project a year later with a bold, unique style that has divided opinion ever since.

When Gaudí died in 1926, only a small part of the church had been built. The Spanish Civil War and a reliance on private donations then saw it grind to a standstill before slowly starting up again years later. The expected completion date of the building is 2030, which will mean that it has taken close to 150 years to build.

National Monument of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland

What looks like the ruins of an old building on Calton Hill is actually an unfinished monument to the Scottish soldiers who lost their lives in the Napoleonic Wars.
The design was created in the 1820s and was closely modelled on the Parthenon in Athens. Work began in 1826 but stopped when the money ran out just three years later. This led to the project receiving nicknames such as Edinburgh’s Folly and Edinburgh’s Disgrace.

Palace of the Soviets in Moscow, Russia

This was supposed to be an administrative centre close to the Kremlin. The original design was for the tallest building on Earth of its time, all in a time before CE accredited fabrications were introduced in the 1980’s. In fact, work started on this palace in 1937 but was halted by the Second World War.   
During the war, the steel frame was taken apart and used in bridges, fortifications and other war-time needs. Work was never re-started. By the 1950’s, the base of the proposed palace was being used as the world’s biggest open-air swimming pool.

Torre de David in Caracas, Venezuela

This giant building is also known as the Centro Financiero Confinanzas. It is the second tallest skyscraper in the Venezuelan capital but remains incomplete.

Work began on it in 1990 but four years later a banking crisis in the country caused it to come to a stop. In the meantime, it has been damaged by earthquakes and still lacks interior fittings and basic services. However, thousands of locals squat in it, illegally and in precarious conditions.   

Ryu-Gyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea

At 105 stories high, this is the tallest building in North Korea and it is also listed as being the planet’s tallest unoccupied building. It is 330 metres (1.080 feet) tall and work started on it in 1987.

The project came to a standstill in 1992 due to economic problems, meaning that it lacked windows and fittings. Work began again in 2008 and the exterior was finally completed. At the time of writing, it is still unclear when it will finally be completed and opened.