Inside Bangkok’s Abandoned, Half-Finished Ghost Tower

Inside Bangkok’s Abandoned, Half-Finished Ghost Tower

The skyscraper index tells us that tall buildings and the market are closely correlated — and the unlucky ones being built during a catastrophic economic crisis run the risk of remaining incomplete forever. Such was the case with Sathorn Unique.

Sathorn, a 49-storey tower in Bangkok, has sat unfinished since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which got its start in Thailand after the Thai baht collapsed that summer. Some locals, according to Atlas Obscura, believe it’s haunted — a rumour that’s gleaned it the nickname “ghost tower.” These days, its empty facade nets a bit of cash through advertising:

Picture: Dan Woods

In fact, the concrete structure is accessible to anyone who wants to explore it — you can even visit the upper floors — which remain the most exposed — where the luxury suites were once planned.

Today, weeds and shrubs have cracked through the concrete floors and wound their way up unfinished columns, rebar still sticking up like uncooked spaghetti.

But be forewarned: “Getting to the top terrace of the building is possible,” says alternative travel guide, “but it is absolutely not a good idea, and the structure is fragile and bares many holes in the floors.”

Images by IMP1 and Axel Drainville.

Sathorn is far from the only unfinished tower in the world. From the US to North Korea, there are dozens of half-built skyscrapers all over the world. In some cases, flexible neighbours take advantage of the space — in Caracas, for example, a 45-storey unfinished tower hosts thousands of squatters, some of whom have even installed windows and TVs.

Image by Axel Drainville.

But in more cases than not, they sit unused — crumbling, attracting crime, and posing serious risks to the surrounding community. Is there such a thing as a skyscraper rescue plan?

Seriously: There are protocols for rescuing communities from disasters and other crises. So when investments go bad, who says there shouldn’t be a plan for how to either use or dismantle its hulking remains? [Atlas Obscura; Huffpo]