The "Saint-Exupéry" railway station at Lyon-Satolas airport, designed by Santiago Calatrava (France, 1999)
Zwentendorf nuclear power plant (Austria, 2003)
This power plant near the capital, Vienna, was finished in 1978, but the Austrian people voted narrowly against using it. The building cost €1 billion (SFr1.64 billion).
Valentin submarine bunker (Germany, 2007)
Germany's largest bunker was built in 1943-45 with the aid of forced labour. 6,000 workers died during this time. In 1945 the bunker was bombed and then dismantled after the war ended. Submarines were never made there.
Bio towers in Lauchhammer (Germany, 2005)
These towers were part of the biological purification process for wastewater. They were decommissioned in 2002. The protected buildings are now threatened with demolition.
Haus der Einheit, Berlin (Germany, 2005)
Built in 1929 as a Jewish department store, the Haus der Einheit (House of Unity) served as the headquarters of the Hitler Youth during the Second World War and afterwards, as the HQ of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany. It has been empty since 1995.
Bücker factory near Rangsdorf (Germany, 2005)
The Bücker factory south of Berlin produced fighter planes during the Second World War. After the war, Soviet troops used it to repair their planes and engines. Some buildings were converted into houses in 1994, others have fallen into decay.
Pagny river port in the Saône Valley (France, 1999)
Slated to be the trans-shipping centre in the planned Rhine-Rhone canal, the project in the idyllic Doubs valley was cancelled following massive local protests. A smaller version was started in 2006 as part of the container port Pagny-Marseille, but its economic success has yet to be ascertained.
Grain silos in Pasewalk (Germany, 2005)
The VEB grain and concentrated feed stuff factory near the German-Polish border was in East German days one of the largest of its kind. Nowadays the silos are partially used as grain stores.
Mystery Park, Interlaken (Switzerland, 2006)
The park was opened in 2003. Seven pavillions showed the public the world's mysteries. But only half of the expected visitors came and the park closed in November 2006. The owners are now hoping to sell the park.
Samona di Sciacca theatre (Italy, 2007)
This theatre in Sciacca in Sicily was designed by architect Gianni Ranaulo. In 1982 building work was stopped but the theatre went ahead and opened in 2007.
Landsberger Arcades, Berlin (Germany, 2004)
This office and shopping centre, in the Landsberger Allee in east Berlin, was designed by Milan architect Aldo Rossi. It cost €150 million but has been empty since 1997. Plans are being mooted to turn it into a hotel.
Planning failures, ruins, and broken dreams.
This content was published on December 10, 2007 - 10:28
Traditionally, a white elephant is an object, building or project whose usefulness is doubtful and whose cost was often exorbitant. Swiss photographer Christian Helmle spent seven years tracking the most impressive of these beasts in the wilds of Europe, publishing the results in his book, "White Elephants" (Jovis Verlag Berlin).
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