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Gothamist

5 Amazing Projects That Were Never Built

Gothamist
Gothamist

Architects are some of the world’s best thinkers. Without new ideas, society cannot progress and evolve. They’re there to push the boundaries and test new concepts—which sometimes work.

But often, the architects' projects are cut off by monetary constraints, or by governments and planning committees who aren’t quite as progressive as they are. That means that an awful lot of innovative ideas for buildings, towns and cities fall by the wayside, left in drawers as paper plans and polystyrene models. Here are five amazing projects that were never built—examples of what could have been, rather than what was.

1. Motopia

Things Magazine

In the 1960s and '70s, Britain was buoyed by the Pilkington company's newfound ability to produce large plate glass. The company formed a new group, called the Glass Age Development Committee, to promote the use of glass as a building material. One of the committee's prized plans was Motopia, a car-based city designed by Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe. The cars, and all the roads, were to be placed on top of large glass buildings, leaving the ground for relaxation, greenery, and pedestrianized parkland. It would've been a stark contrast to today, where roads rule the ground. But ultimately, it was never built, and sketches are all that remain.

2. LAX’s giant dome

Fabrik LA

LAX already has unique architecture; its Theme Building looks like a giant spaceship rising up into the sky. But architects Pereira & Luckman’s original 1952 plans for the airport were even more outlandish. They wanted to encase the airport under a giant glass dome, with palm trees reaching up to the roof of the circular central hub building, from which the terminals would branch off.

3. Hotel Atraccion, New York

Wikimedia Commons

Edward Carlton, a hotelier, was a fan of Antoni Gaudi’s unique architectural designs. So in 1908, when Carlton wanted to build a new hotel for the superrich in Lower Manhattan, he travelled over to Spain to meet the architect and artist to commission him to design the building. The Hotel Atraccion would have been more than 1000 feet high and towered over New York, had Gaudi not abandoned the project a year later.

4. The Manhattan Dome

Gothamist

Even today, the allure of living under a protective bubble is strong—and it certainly was in 1960, when Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao suggested encasing Manhattan in a 3.3km-wide dome made of shatterproof, one-way glass. Today the idea seems way too outlandish to be considered, but back in the 1960s promise and potential were freer.

5. The Green Bird, London

Skyscraper Page

The people of London narrowly escaped a blush-worthy error in judgment when the Green Bird tower was trashed in 1990. Architects Future Systems suggested building an 83-floor tower 1450 feet high in Battersea, London that would curve over the city. The only problem was, well…it had an unfortunate shape that would never have escaped endless ridicule.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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