Section D

White elephants

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Cover art for Section D

6 December 2016

Episode 269

30 minutes

Today we’re on safari for the architectural outliers known as white elephants: those buildings built with the best of intentions that – through poor conception, spiralling costs or unforeseen circumstances – have fallen from favour and out of use. We also talk to Richard Rogers and the Riba International Prize winners Grafton Architects.

6 December 2016

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Chapter 1

5 minutes


Photo: Alamy

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Chapter 1

White elephants

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So what is a white elephant anyway? Josh Fehnert looks at some recent examples and suggests a new way of thinking about them.

5 minutes

Chapter 2

6 minutes

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Chapter 2

Palestinian parliament

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Twenty years ago, with the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in full swing, the Palestinians began constructing their first parliament building. But when the peace process fell by the wayside, violence swept the region and the half-finished parliament became an afterthought. Monocle contributor Mary Pelletier went to the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Abu Dis to see why this sandy-coloured monolith is still stuck in limbo.

6 minutes

Chapter 3

7 minutes


Photo: Filip Maljković

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Chapter 3

Belgrade's redundant buildings

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Belgrade used to be the capital of Yugoslavia. Now it’s the capital city of a considerably diminished Serbia. And that’s left it with all sorts of redundant buildings – everything from banks to army barracks – all designed to serve a much larger country. Campaigners say these places could be repurposed so they’ve called on experts from other European countries with experience of turning white elephants into something more useful. Monocle’s man in Belgrade Guy De Launey reports.

7 minutes

Chapter 4

5 minutes


Photo: Iwan Baan

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Chapter 4

Royal Institute of British Architects's International Prize

Cover art for Section D

Just under a fortnight ago the Royal Institute of British Architects awarded its inaugural International Prize to Grafton Architects for their University of Engineering and Technology building in Lima. The skeletal concrete structure was commended for its innovative re-imagining of a university campus as a vertical space. We spoke to Grafton’s directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara about the building, as well as the British architect Richard Rogers who headed the judging panel.

5 minutes

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