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White Elephants: Over-Budget, Unsuccessful, and Embarrassing Architecture Projects From Around the World

09:50 - 26 September, 2016
White Elephants: Over-Budget, Unsuccessful, and Embarrassing Architecture Projects From Around the World, Courtesy of Unknown
Courtesy of Unknown

Not every piece of architecture can be an economic and social success. But there is one dreaded term reserved for only the mot wasteful of projects: "white elephants." The term comes from a story of the kings of Siam, now Thailand, who would reportedly gift sacred albino elephants to courtiers they didn't like. Refusing the gift from the king would have been unacceptable, but being sacred, these animals were forbidden from work, leading the courtier to financial ruin—a fact the kings knew all too well.

Of course, in architecture the term "white elephant" is used frequently to disparage certain projects, and whether a project is deserving of such infamy is usually a matter of perspective. Often eyesores or reminders of poorly spent funds, these projects refuse to be forgotten despite few wanting to remember them. Dotted around the world and across history, they all have the same thing in common: although they may (or may not) have once looked good on paper, they probably should have just stayed on paper.

Courtyard Residence in Benimaclet / Gradolí & Sanz

13:00 - 21 September, 2016
Courtyard Residence in Benimaclet / Gradolí & Sanz, © Mariela Apollonio
© Mariela Apollonio

© Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio +23

  • Architects

  • Location

    Carrer d'Alegret, 14, 46020 València, Valencia, Spain
  • Architect in Charge

    Carmel Gradolí, Arturo Sanz
  • Area

    108.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

Loft Renovation in 'El Cabañal' / AMBAU TALLER D’ARQUITECTES

13:00 - 22 June, 2016
 Loft Renovation in 'El Cabañal'  / AMBAU TALLER D’ARQUITECTES, © Germán Cabo
© Germán Cabo

© Germán Cabo © Germán Cabo © Germán Cabo © Germán Cabo +13

Ricart House / Gradolí & Sanz

09:00 - 10 June, 2016
Ricart House / Gradolí & Sanz, © Mariela Apollonio
© Mariela Apollonio

© Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio +20

  • Architects

  • Location

    Benimaclet, València, Valencia, Spain
  • Author Architects

    Arturo Sanz Martínez, Carmel Gradolí Martínez
  • Area

    250.0 m2
  • Project Year

    2012
  • Photography

Habitual Restaurant / Rife Design

11:00 - 6 January, 2016
Habitual Restaurant / Rife Design, © Fernando Alda
© Fernando Alda

© Fernando Alda © Fernando Alda © Fernando Alda © Fernando Alda +11

  • Architects

  • Location

    Carrer de Jorge Juan, 19, 46004 València, Valencia, Spain
  • Architect in Charge

    Frances Rifé
  • Area

    300.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2015
  • Photographs

Vernacular Penthouse / El fabricante de espheras

15:00 - 31 December, 2015
Vernacular Penthouse / El fabricante de espheras , © Milena Villalba
© Milena Villalba

© Milena Villalba © Milena Villalba © Milena Villalba © Milena Villalba +20

Ca Peter & Lisa / David Estal

05:00 - 12 November, 2015
Ca Peter & Lisa / David Estal, © Mariela Apollonio
© Mariela Apollonio

© Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio +22

Valencia University Language Center / Arkítera SLP

05:00 - 25 September, 2015
© Mariela Apollonio
© Mariela Apollonio
  • Architects

  • Location

    Valencia, Spain
  • Architects in charge

    Carlos Sánchez Hernández y Salvador Lara Ortega (ARKITERA
  • Area

    3885.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

© Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio +21

House in Barrio del Carmen / Hugo Mompó Architecture + Juan Grau

03:00 - 31 July, 2015
House in Barrio del Carmen / Hugo Mompó Architecture + Juan Grau, © Mariela Apollonio
© Mariela Apollonio

© Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio © Mariela Apollonio +17

EKKLESÍA / pinktruder

13:00 - 24 June, 2015
EKKLESÍA / pinktruder, © Noel Arraiz
© Noel Arraiz

© Noel Arraiz © Noel Arraiz © Noel Arraiz © Noel Arraiz +16

  • Architects

  • Location

    Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  • Architect in Charge

    Miguel Arraiz García / David Moreno Terrón
  • Area

    144.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2015
  • Photographs

Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences Stars in Disney's "Tomorrowland"

08:00 - 23 May, 2015
Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences Stars in Disney's "Tomorrowland", © Flickr CC User Tim Snell
© Flickr CC User Tim Snell

Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences has taken a starring role in Tomorrowland, Disney's latest blockbuster. Located in the former riverbed of the Turia in Valencia, Spain, the City of Arts and Sciences comprises a cinema (L'Hemisfèric), a landscaped walk and sculpture garden (L'Umbracle), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum, the largest aquarium in Europe (L'Oceanográfico), and the renowned Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. The complex was constructed in stages commencing in July 1996, and opened to the public in October 2005. Unique and strikingly futuristic, the iconic group of buildings caught the eye of Tomorrowland producer Jeffrey Chernov, who spoke effusively of the building at a recent press conference for the film.

"Calatrava's architecture is just phenomenal and inventive and exciting. It's very skeletal, like you're looking at the vertebrae of a dinosaur or prehistoric fish," said Chernov. "You walk into that place and you never want to leave. That's the vibe we wanted for Tomorrowland."

El Musical Cultural Center / Eduardo de Miguel Arbonés

04:00 - 22 April, 2015
El Musical Cultural Center / Eduardo de Miguel Arbonés, © Duccio Malagamba
© Duccio Malagamba

© Duccio Malagamba © Duccio Malagamba © Duccio Malagamba © Duccio Malagamba +21

Nozomi Sushi / Masquespacio

01:00 - 2 February, 2015
Nozomi Sushi / Masquespacio, © David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas
© David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas

© David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas © David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas © David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas © David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas +18

  • Interior Designers

  • Location

    Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  • Creative Director

    Ana Milena Hernández Palacios
  • Creative junior

    Nuria Martínez
  • Architect junior

    Virgínia Hinarejos
  • Area

    233.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photographs

Oslo Restaurant / Borja Garcia Studio

01:00 - 13 August, 2014
Oslo Restaurant / Borja Garcia Studio, Courtesy of Borja García Studio
Courtesy of Borja García Studio

Courtesy of Borja García Studio Courtesy of Borja García Studio Courtesy of Borja García Studio Courtesy of Borja García Studio +17

  • Architects

  • Location

    Carrer Catalans, 8, 46001 Valencia, Spain
  • Project Architects

    Borja García. Laura Ros
  • Project Year

    2014
  • Photography

    Courtesy of Borja García Studio

Rehabilitación de Edifico en la Calle Cervantes / Antonio Altarriba

01:00 - 27 April, 2014
Rehabilitación de Edifico en la Calle Cervantes / Antonio Altarriba, © Diego Opazo
© Diego Opazo

© Diego Opazo © Diego Opazo © Diego Opazo © Diego Opazo +17

  • Architects

  • Location

    Calle Cervantes, 06330 Valencia, Badajoz, Spain
  • Area

    391.0 sqm
  • Project Year

    2013
  • Photographs

Could a Lick of Super Strong Carbon Paint Fix Caltrava's Palau de les Arts?

00:00 - 24 February, 2014
Could a Lick of Super Strong Carbon Paint Fix Caltrava's Palau de les Arts?, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia
El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia

Will the peeling shell of Santiago Calatrava’s Palau de les Arts in Valencia be saved by an innovative, new paint? Calatrava's $455.6 million project, which surpassed its budget four times over, has sprouted many defects over the years, but none more damning than its peeling facade - a defect that spurred the city of Valencia to sue Calatrava's office. However, Spanish paint manufacturer Graphenano has proposed an innovative solution: Graphenstone, a mixture of limestone powder and the allotrope graphene, which should just prevent further deterioration. Whether the solution could also relieve some courtroom tension, remains to be seen. Read more on Inhabitat and The Architect's Newspaper

Vegamar Seleccion Wine Shop / Fran Silvestre Arquitectos

01:00 - 24 January, 2014
Vegamar Seleccion Wine Shop / Fran Silvestre Arquitectos, © Diego Opazo
© Diego Opazo

© Diego Opazo © Diego Opazo © Diego Opazo © Diego Opazo +13

  • Architects

  • Location

    Carrer de Colón, Valencia, Spain
  • Principal In Charge

    Fran Silvestre
  • Collaborator Architect

    Jordi Martínez, Ángel Fito
  • Interior Design

    Alfaro Hofmann
  • Area

    123.0 sqm
  • Photographs

La Petite Brioche / Binomio Estudio

01:00 - 11 November, 2013
La Petite Brioche / Binomio Estudio, © David Zarzoso
© David Zarzoso

© David Zarzoso © David Zarzoso © David Zarzoso © David Zarzoso +9