South Korea to Build World’s First Invisible Skyscraper

International firm GDS Architects is set to build an invisible skyscraper just outside of Seoul in South Korea.

The illusion will be created by projecting scenery from behind the building onto the front of the building, giving the impression that the tower isn’t there at all.

Cameras will be placed at three different heights on every side of the tower and will capture real-time images of the surroundings. These images will then be projected onto hundreds of rows of LED screens spread over the tower.

Through digital processing, the images will be scaled, rotated and merged to create a seamless panoramic picture that appears on the LED screens and creates the illusion of invisibility.

Camouflaging unsightly buildings is not a new concept. Dutch designer Roeland Otten uses mirrors and tiles to disguise urban eyesores in the Netherlands. But the South Korea project is one of a kind in terms of scale and technology.

Tower Infinity will be completed in 2014 and will stand 1,476 feet tall. It will be the sixth highest tower in the world with the third highest observation deck.

But according to architects on the project, size isn’t the point.

Dubbed the “anti-tower” by its designers, Tower Infinity is a kind of passive-aggressive demonstration of Korea’s rising position in the world – a way to establish a “powerful presence through diminishing its presence,” according to initial project descriptions.

The national landmark isn’t supposed to compete with the world’s tallest buildings, but rather showcase Korean technology in an understated way.

Of the many architectural firms that competed for the tower project, GDS says, most focused on making their skyscrapers in-your-face landmarks that dominated the skyline. GDS approached the challenge in a different way.

“We wanted to redefine what it meant to be a landmark,” project architect Charles Wee said in a recent interview with Forbes.

“From our perspective, Korea is an advanced nation. It doesn’t need to show off. It doesn’t need to fall into the meaningless race of building the tallest building. We thought we’d do the opposite – make it disappear!”

Situated near to Incheon International Airport, it’s hoped that Tower Infinity will attract tourists from across the globe. When completed, it will house a series of observation decks, a movie theater, roller coaster, water park and various retail and food outlets.

Critics of the project have questioned the thinking behind building an invisible tower so close to a major airport. But GDS architects say the building will only be invisible from certain vantage points and that airplanes and birds will be able to see the building from the air.

Photo Courtesy of GDS.

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