What The Sydney Opera House (And Other Famous Monuments) Could Have Looked Like

Not every idea is a good idea when it comes to public architecture. In fact, some ideas are downright absurd — a Triumphal Elephant standing atop the Champs Elysees? Really? Our friends at Oobject have assembled 12 of the wackiest national tributes to thankfully never be built.

When you're done taking in the sights, be sure to also check out these nine depressing monuments, a few more while they were being built, and the nine most grandiose public works projects of all time.

Charles Ribart's Triumphal Elephant Alternative To The Arc De Triomphe

The Eiffel tower could also have been similarly weird, with one of the competition proposals being for a giant replica of a Guillotine, to commemorate the revolution.

Unbuilt Proposal For Alterations To The White House

The Second Prize Winner For The Sydney Opera House

Alternative Designs For The Chrysler Building

Unbuilt Strauss Design For The Golden Gate

Lincoln Memorial Proposal By John Russell Pope, 1912

Alternative Proposal For The Washington Monument

Tortola Plan For US Capitol With Tiny Dome.

Enormous 94 Floor Pyramid Necropolis For Primrose Hill In London

An Alternative Design For London's Iconic But Awful Tower Bridge

Tower bridge is one of those monuments that make architects wince. A piece of kitsch pastiche that people don't realise is a modern building becuase of its proximity to the genuinely old Tower of London. What makes this alternative so striking is its similarity but difference.

Giant Pyramid Proposal For London's Trafalgar Square

This was significantly smaller than the totally crazy scheme for an enormous pyramid necropolis at Primrose Hill.

Alternative Design By Christopher Wren For St Paul's Cathedral, London

This was called the Warrant design and was in response to an earlier proposal that was also rejected.


    The Tower Bridge remark is telling in its inanity, considering it was built in the late 19th century and the design really only references popular contemporary styles and/or those no more than a hundred years older than it- Most of the design styles trumpeted in current architectural fashion are similarly based on old fashioned retro design styles (modernism) from almost a hundred years ago.

      I t referenced styles 1000 years older - the castle next it, but was designed at roughly the same time as the genuinely modern Eiffel Tower. As such, Tower bridge is more like the Disneyland castle than a real piece of fortification.

    A couple of those make a little more sense than you're giving them credit for. For example, a triumphal elephant makes sense in the context that India and Africa were seen as alien untamed frontiers, at the time the Arch De Triumph was created. I suspect that if there were a huge elephant standing there today we'd still think it was special.

    The many Egyptian obelisks dotting Rome - a city which was once host to dozens triumphal arches - similarly reflect the conquests of the time.

    The runner up from the Sydney Opera House design looks like a power plant from the old Dune game.

      Man! I knew I'd seen it before... I was thinking a transformer from an amplifier.

    The Sydney Opera house as Morlock food processing factory? Missed opportunity there!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now