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  • EDG.Space

The Unbuilt Buildings: Celebrating the Designs That Never Were

The journey from conceptualisation to realisation is often complex when it comes to building design and architecture.


Although our portfolio is full of successful projects, like many other building designers, we’ve also got our fair share of untold stories - those designs that never see the light of day.

Some of our most inspired (and favourite!) creations don’t ever materialise, whether it's unforeseen challenges, budget limitations or a change of priorities.

And it’s a common thread throughout the architecture industry.

Some of Our Best Work That Never Saw the Light

While it may seem like a paradox, some of our best work as building designers never actually ends up being built. 

But these unbuilt projects still hold immense value. They contribute to our ongoing evolution, often influencing future designs.

3D of a stunning home that was never built.
This stunning home is one of our favourite designs that didn’t end up being built.

3D of one of our favourite unbuilt designs.
We successfully achieved a reduced set back off the river which can be challenging from a planning perspective. We also had a builder lined up.

They also provide us with plenty of lessons. The challenges we face and the adaptations we make throughout the design process help us refine our approach, enhance our problem-solving skills for future projects and give us a new perspective for subsequent projects.

Front 3D view of a proposed new visitors centre.
This design was for a unique visitor's centre.

3D of a proposed new visitors centre that didn't get built.

3D images of a new visitors centre.

And it’s great to see that these unbuilt projects are being celebrated in the architectural community.

For example, there are many awards dedicated to unbuilt projects. 

The Architecture AU Prize for Unbuilt Work seeks conceptually rigorous, inventive responses to contemporary architectural issues. According to AA, “the prize promotes debate and generates ideas about architecture by rewarding compelling work in its conceptual stages”.

On the global stage, the 2019 World Architecture Festival featured an "Experimental Future Project" category specifically for unbuilt work. 

For those of us providing building design and architectural services, unrealised projects are often places where we test the limits of our creativity and plant the seeds of future innovations.

It’s a reminder that the creative process is rarely linear. It can often take a detour or even hit a dead end. But it’s still incredibly valuable to our creativity as building designers.

Common Reasons For Unbuilt Designs

There are various reasons why even our most favourite designs never get off the ground.

Budget Constraints

Unsurprisingly, budget constraints are among the most common reasons behind unbuilt projects. 

Both architects and building designers strive to balance creativity with fiscal responsibility. But often, it can be outside our control.

At EDG.Space, we have open and honest conversations with our clients about budgets from the get-go.

From the first conversation, we aim to understand our client’s vision for their project. So we can let them know whether their dream is realistic with their budget.

But it’s not uncommon in the industry for aspirations for a grand design to clash with the limitations of available funds. 

Client Circumstances

Sometimes, there are things outside our clients' control that impact the future of the project.

This could be because of changing priorities, evolving tastes or external factors that might mean big changes to a client’s lifestyle that make the design no longer desirable or practical. 

Because designing and building a property takes time, significant life changes can often see clients going in a different direction from what they originally envisaged.

Regulatory Challenges

When it comes to regulatory approvals, they’re an integral part of any design process. 

But sometimes, a project could face an expected challenge due to new unforeseen zoning restrictions, community objections or other environmental concerns.

Despite meticulous planning, the project may not be able to proceed as intended.

Thankfully, we’ve never experienced this with any of our projects, but it can happen.


If you’re looking for a building designer for your next home or business, we’d love to chat to see what innovative and creative designs we could create for you. 

Get in touch with the team today to find out more.


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