« The World’s Tallest » Ferris Wheel / 世界第一摩天轮

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were a great source of failed projects, among which the world’s most ambitious Ferris wheel project. I went on this exploration about one year ago, with my friend Brïn, who created the blog burbex.org. I decided to finally publish it, because he just left China (without saying goodbye, by the way, that is not nice my friend!). I already miss him, so this report is a good memory of our trips.

The archetype of failed mega-projects in China

« Chao Tian Lun » (朝天轮), the failed project of Ferris wheel was introduced to me by Brïn as his favorite hideaway place in Beijing. After I saw the place, I could understand why he liked it so much.

Let’s start with some background information. This project of « the world’s tallest ferris wheel » was originally one of the gigantic projects conceived just before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park. The main investor was a major firm from Holland, which built the famous « London Eye » in time for the Millenium. According to news reports1, the investment was as high as 990 million dollars. The Ferris wheel was supposed to be 208 meters tall2, with a diameter of 198 meters and 48 cars (each of which being able to take 40 people in), as you can see on the picture below.

Chaoyang Ferris Wheel original project (internet sources)

In theory, the reason why the Ferris wheel was so tall was to allow tourists to appreciate the view on the Great Wall, located in the northern parts of the Beijing suburbs, which is in fact almost impossible, because in general, visibility only reaches 20 km by clean weather. In any case, construction started in 2006-2007, but it was interrupted quite soon after because of a financial audit.

Inauguration day, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, 2006 (Internet sources)

In the end, this highly ambitious plan resulted in one of Beijing’s famous « unfinished-rotten buildings » or lanweilou. When one visits Chaoyang Park, one can still see the project description around the abandoned construction site.

« Asia’s most » abandoned project, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016

Exploring the unfinished project on the ground and underground

As I wrote before, I like discovering forgotten places with a history and not abandoned unfinished constructions. But this failed project was very particular and I liked it a lot: there was a special atmosphere inside it during the winter, the architecture on the ground and underground was quite amazing and the way the nature grew around the metallic structures conveyed a romantic feeling out of it.

A special atmosphere, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
Geometry of unfinished-rotten constructions, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
Underground, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
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Underground pillar foundation, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
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Rust, ice, concrete and iron, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
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Perspective on the pillars, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
Abandoned construction pieces, Chaoyang Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016
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Romantic vision of pillars and wild grass on a polluted late afternoon, Ferris Wheel, Jan 2016

If you liked this place, you can also check Brïn’s excellent pictures of the place evolving along with the seasons in his blog report.

If you like abandoned Ferris wheels in general, you can also read about Beijing Amusement Park.

  1. See for instance « 世界第一摩天轮落户北京朝阳公园 », 新京报, July 13. 2006.
  2. The London Eye is, in comparison, 135 meters high.

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