Sometimes, an architect’s imagination run away with them and they come up with structures that look too fantastic to be true and never actually get off the drawing board. Maybe they’d cost more money than anyone in the world can afford or maybe it’s just not physically possible to build something like that without it falling down in a gust of wind, but whatever the reason, we can only imagine what they’d have looked like.

Until now.

On Stride Financial has come up with these awesome city skyline images to show how different they would look if these buildings had been possible, and as you can see, Chicago’s skyscrapers would have looked tiny compared to The Illinois. And check out Paris with a giant elephant instead of the Arc de Triomphe! Or the huge mega-pyramid that would have come straight out of a sci-fi film into the bay near Tokyo, designed to be home to one million people!

London’s skyline also looks very different with big alien-looking pods that would have walked across the city and beyond when their owners wanted to literally move house. It’s a shame none of these structures were possible when they were designed, but now we can see what they would have looked like, who knows we’ll be able to do in the future?

More info: onstride.co.uk

1. Bangkok Hyperbuilding (Bangkok, Thailand)

Urban sprawl and energy consumption represent enormous challenges, and this unique structure represents architect Rem Koolhaas’s attempt to tackle them in Bangkok. Designed in 1996, the Hyperbuilding would have housed 120,000 people using just 3% of the space usually required for that many. In addition to living space, there would have been workplaces and services, as well as cable cars, gondolas and train elevators. It would have allowed people to travel less and use less energy, while also providing more green spaces.

2. The Illinois (Chicago, USA)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s most ambitious design was this immense tower planned for Chicago, described in his 1957 book, A Testament. The tower was intended to provide homes for 100,000 people, with room for 20,000 cars and 180 helicopters. One of the most exciting aspects was the 60 mph atomic-powered elevators – but the costs of the scheme simply proved to be too much.

3. Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid (Tokyo Bay, Japan)

The Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid looks and sounds like it’s from a sci-fi movie, and it would have been the largest man-made structure in the world. Sitting on Tokyo Bay, the pyramid was intended to house a million people and withstand high winds, earthquakes and tsunamis. But even in 2004, the architects were too far ahead of their time; it was such an advanced plan that the materials didn’t yet exist to build it.

4. The Triumphant Elephant (Paris, France)

Everyone who has ever visited Paris has seen the famous Arc de Triomphe – but it almost looks dull compared to what could have stood in its place. In 1758, architect Charles Ribert drew up imaginative plans to build a giant elephant, which visitors could climb into via a spiral staircase. The pièce de résistance would have been water coming out of its trunk and music from its ears, courtesy of the orchestra in the ballroom inside.

5. The Walking City (London, England)

City designs don’t come much more futuristic than Ron Herron’s Walking City, which was published in the mid-1960s. The buildings were pods on legs, which would be artificially intelligent and able to ‘walk’ to wherever they were needed, even connecting with other cities, if necessary. The Walking City was intended to exist in a post-apocalyptic world – one where boundaries and borders are no longer used and people live a nomadic lifestyle. Needless to say, we’re not quite there yet.

6. Tatlin’s Tower (St. Petersburg, Russia)

In 1919, the Soviet regime in Russia was looking to construct a headquarters for the Third Communist International. It was intended to be functional, as well as a monument to recognize everything that was achieved since the Bolshevik Revolution and everything that was to come. Architect Vladimir Tatlin designed a 400m twisted tower of iron, glass and steel. It was so ahead of its time that it was never built, but there are models of it in museums in Russia, Sweden, France and the UK.

7. Hotel Attraction (New York, USA)

The New York City skyline is full of iconic buildings, but its most spectacular structure was one that was never built. Antoni Gaudi’s magical architecture can be seen all around Barcelona, and in the early 20th century, a couple of businessmen from the Big Apple wanted to bring some to their city. Gaudi designed Hotel Attraction, with conical towers and a star-shaped sphere. It would have been the tallest – and most unusual – building in the city, but unfortunately Gaudi dropped out and the project fell apart.