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Venezuela

White Elephants Around The World, A Video Tour

Torre de David in Caracas, Venezuela
Torre de David in Caracas, Venezuela
Anne Sophie Goninet

Brazil struggled to complete the sporting venues needed for the Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro. But what about the brand new stadiums that were built especially for the FIFA World Cup, just two years ago? Although they cost billions, most of these stadiums now have a very low occupancy rate: The Arena Pantanal only hosted 47 matches in two years.

In retrospect, the South American giant may have taken on too much by hosting the back-to-back mega events. But it isn't the only country with high-cost buildings that look more like a burden than a monument to innovation and efficiency.

Huge towers, stadiums, hotels, artificial islands or even entire cities ... Big construction projects start with high expectations but end in disappointment, with an empty and sometimes half-complete structure. Here are five examples of these so-called "white elephants" from all around the world:

Take 5 — White Elephants Around The Worldpar Worldcrunch

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Green

Urban Mining: How Sustainable Cities Are Recycling Buildings Down To The Bone

As material costs skyrocket, an old practice is becoming popular again: reusing building materials. In Germany, the first projects are already underway – and so far, results are promising as a model for sustainable cities.

Image of scaffoldings on a construction site.

View of Havel Quartier Potsdam near the main train station in Brandenburg, Germany.

Jan Schulte

BERLIN — At first glance, Huthmacher Haus at Number 2 Hardenbergplatz in Berlin is nothing special: a large white concrete block.

The 60-meter-tall building opposite the Zoologischer Garten train station is rather inelegant – perhaps an acquired taste for lovers of post-War architecture. Having been built in 1957, non-architecture buffs might be more interested in the iconic yellow giraffe painted on the façade, a reference to the zoo around the corner.

Three years ago, investor Newport Holding wanted to tear the building down and replace it with a 95-meter-tall office complex. But the German historic monuments commission was against the idea – and suddenly, what was considered a useless concrete building became an example of a sustainable approach to using building materials.

The current owners, Bavarian company Bayerische Hausbau, want to renovate the building, preserving as much as possible and laying the groundwork for the materials to be reused in the future – an approach called urban mining.

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