Albert Speer couldn’t make something this creepy

typed for your pleasure on 6 February 2005, at 4.38 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Another way’ by Vitesse

This doesn’t exactly fall under my usual standard of 20th.cen Modern architecture, but this building continually fascinates the living hell out of me. This spooky titan is known as the Ryugyong Hotel, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The Ryugyong Hotel is, in my opinion, the single most unsettling structure ever erected by the hand of man. It’s 1,082 feet tall, has 105 floors, and encloses 3.9 million square meters of floor space. And it is completely empty. It doesn’t even have windows.

The North Korean government began construction of the building in 1987 at an estimated cost of $750 million, or 2% of the country’s GDP. [..] Work was halted in 1992, and nobody knows exactly why.
from The Shape of Days

I’ll hazard a guess as to why work was halted, apart from the lack of funding and the dodgy concrete. Cos the building is gigantic, creepy, and evil. Would you want to spend your happy holiday in North Korea (yes yes, it’s a contradiction in terms) staying anywhere in that hotel? Seriously, how would they expect to attract paying tourists? I mean, being fair, there are a few Communist-inspired buildings that I like, just cos they’re so relentlessly sturdy and imposing, but jesus, Mordor isn’t as evil as this thing.

It’s funny; I’ve known about this place for a couple of months, so when I first saw it in the PS2 game Mercenaries, where it’s known as the Song Tower, I cackled with glee. It’s on the level where you find the Ace of Clubs. You can blow it up with a bunker buster bomb, and it is o so satisfying.
But hands down, the coolest thing about the Ryugyong Hotel is if you look on any contemporary map of North Korea, you won’t find it there, and tourguides patently refuse to talk about it. The building will probably never be completed, it’s too expensive to tear down, and pretty much all of North Korea denies that it exists. You stare, goggle-eyed, at pictures of it, it’s the tallest structure in the country, but according to the denizens who have to literally live under its shadow, it doesn’t exist. Heh. ‘What hotel? What sinister presence?’


EDIT (13 Jan 08): Links updated. Well, one of them

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10 have spoken to “Albert Speer couldn’t make something this creepy”

  1. KrazyQ writes:

    Perhaps someone in N. Koreaz has to compensate for some short-comings?

  2. Davecat writes:

    ‘Sometimes a building is just a building’, as Freud would’ve said. But in this case, Freud would’ve been WRONG!!1!

    I’d have to say that as a title, ‘The Ryugyong Hotel’ is a little more family-friendly than ‘The People’s Glorious Heavenward Concrete Cock’ or something like that.

  3. Patrick writes:

    If they did open that place up, I would *not* look in my fridge if I stayed there.
    “There is no Dana, there is only Zuel!!”

    I was looking @ this and trying to think what makes it creepy, but I can’t figure it out, other than it looks like a freggin *temple of evil*, perhaps 😉

  4. Davecat writes:

    I think a lot of it kinda goes back to what the Shape of Days article had to say about it. He wrote, ‘Something deep inside my brain tells me that the 75° angle of the hotel’s outer walls is exactly the wrong angle; it says sinister, it says creepy, it says get away.’
    Both the hotel & the pyramids of Egypt are pyramids, but the Egyptian ones are not as dramatically angled — they’re like pointy hills, relatively speaking — but the hotel is a definitive spike. It says, ‘this is a sharp and dangerous building, and it will hurt you if you pick it up.’

    It also says ‘Come enjoy our Communist Buffet Table!’ 😛

  5. PBShelley writes:

    Fascinating story, frightful structure. Maybe it explains the odd Attitude of the little tyrant? *shudders as well*

  6. SafeTinspector writes:

    OH! OH! OH! Now THIS is where I need to make my secret headquarters when I become a supervillian! Just THINK how many trained rats could live in this place.
    And with everyone denying it exists, I will BE INVISIBLE? INVINCIBLE!

  7. SafeTinspector writes:

    Your link to the image is sadly broken. Danm! That’ll teach me to click links.

  8. Davecat writes:

    It’s fixed — don’t know how that’un slipped past me. It’s a shame that the linked articles are defunct, though…

  9. elfboi & Jazzi writes:

    This is architecture right out of the Cthulhu mythos. A Lovecraftian nightmare. If you are brave and stupid enough to travel there, what you find inside will drive you insane, shatter your mind – if you survive.

    I put two photos of that hotel into one of my own blogs: Link One, Link Two

  10. Davecat writes:

    Elfboi –

    ‘The Hotel out of Space,’ cute. 🙂 That second pic was completely insane; I’d never before seen any photos of Ryugyong showing any sense of scale, so that was kinda startling. And even still, I’m sure that person was yards away from the entrance…
    We should get a team of urban explorers to check it out! They would probably never leave, as their minds would’ve been turned into an exquisite goo.

    And when did you get a blog, sir??

    Give our love to Jazzi! 🙂

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