15 famous unfinished projects – don’t let English be one of them!

A New Year brings with it a new set of resolutions. If you’ve made learning English one of yours then don’t give up on it! As motivation, EF English Live have compiled a list of the top 15 unfinished projects from across the world throughout history that would have been all the more magnificent had they been completed. Read our list and marvel at what could have been…

1. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

top unfinished projects

This Roman Catholic Church was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who combined Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms to create something truly unique. Sadly Gaudi never got any recognition during his lifetime and died penniless whilst working on its construction after being struck by a tram – he was mistaken for a beggar due to his shabby clothes.

2. Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, Portsmouth

unfinished projects

At the time of his death in 1870, A Tale of Two Cities author Charles Dickens was perhaps the most celebrated writer in the English language. His final novel, a murder mystery, was not completed so it has never been found out who committed the murder.

3. Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, LA

unfinished projects

One of the world’s greatest film makers, Orson Welles, died in 1985 whilst in the middle of work on The Other Side of the Wind, a project 20 years in the making starring Dennis Hopper and John Huston.

4. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, London

unfinished projects

Another great of the English language, Geoffrey Chaucer, never completed The Canterbury Tales to the extensive length that he originally intended. It is, however, widely considered his seminal work.

5. The Last Supper, Milan

unfinished projects

Leonardo Da Vinci’s late 15th Century masterpiece is technically unfinished. In the late 1970s the mural underwent extensive restoration and in most pictures shows a roof but in Milan, where the painting lies, the roof is incomplete.

6. Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang

unfinished projects

This 105-story pyramid shaped skyscraper remains under construction in North Korea. If finished, it would become the tallest hotel in the world but is unlikely to be completed due to the cost and poor structural integrity.

7. Free As A Bird and Real Love, The Beatles

unfinished projects

When John Lennon was shot dead in New York in 1980 he left behind a massive collection of unreleased and unfinished recordings. In the mid-1990s when the three remaining Beatles ‘reformed’ they pieced together Free As A Bird and Real Love in a studio, all the while pretending that John had “just popped out”.

8. Millennium Novels, Stockholm

unfinished projects

The Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson, best known for writing The Millennium Trilogy; ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’, ‘The Girl Who Played with Fire’ and ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest’, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004. He had originally planned ten novels for this series.

9. Game of Death, Hong Kong

unfinished projects

Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, an incomplete film started in 1972, was planned as the ultimate expression of the martial arts for which Lee was famous. He stopped to make Enter the Dragon, intending to finish Game of Death later, but died in the intervening period.

10. Intempo building, Benidorm

unfinished projects

Work began on this 47 floor, 200 metre high twin tower monstrosity in 2007 and was due to be completed in 2013, but has been significantly delayed by Spain’s economic crisis.

11. The New South China mall, Pearl River Delta

unfinished projects image:Remko Tanis 

This mall in China, opened in 2005, was heralded as the largest shopping centre in the world and was expected to attract some 100,000 visitors a day. That didn’t happen; it’s virtually empty with only 20% occupancy and is now dubbed the New South China ghost mall.

12. Cincinnati Subway, Cincinnati

unfinished projects

The underground train system planned, and half built, for Cincinnati in Ohio during the 1920’s was a casualty of The Great Depression. Today you can visit the unused tunnels to witness what has been described as ‘one of the city’s biggest embarrassments’.

13. Jack The Ripper Murder Enquiry, London

unfinished projects

The serial killer stalking the East End in the late 1880’s murdered 11 victims – mostly prostitutes – during his killing spree and was never caught or, to this day, identified. The enquiry into his crimes remains one of the most famous unresolved investigations in history.

14. Kryptos, Langley

unfinished projects

Kryptos is an encrypted sculpture by American artist Jim Sanborn located on the grounds of the CIA in Langley, Virginia. Of the four messages, three have been solved, with the remaining message becoming one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world.

15. Palace of the Soviets, Moscow

unfinished projects

This was a Soviet project to construct an administrative centre in Russia, near the Kremlin. Construction began in 1937 and, if completed, would have become the world’s tallest building but it was interrupted by the German invasion in 1941.

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