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Coming soon: World's first 'invisible' tower

By Karla Cripps, CNN
September 16, 2013 -- Updated 0228 GMT (1028 HKT)
Tower Infinity will be built just outside of Seoul near Incheon International Airport. Through digital processing, images will be scaled, rotated and merged to create a seamless panoramic image that appears on rows of LED screens to create an illusion of invisibility.
Tower Infinity will be built just outside of Seoul near Incheon International Airport. Through digital processing, images will be scaled, rotated and merged to create a seamless panoramic image that appears on rows of LED screens to create an illusion of invisibility.
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World's first 'invisible' tower
How it works
High-tech camouflage
World's sixth tallest tower
Not just another tall building
Tower Infinity
Night view
'Invisible' observation decks
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tower Infinity will be 450 meters high and have the third highest observation deck in the world
  • The invisibility illusion will be achieved with LED facade system
  • Tower Infinity will be built near Seoul's Incheon International Airport

(CNN) -- For architecture buffs numbed by the ongoing global battle to crank out record-breaking tall buildings, here's something innovative to spark the imagination.

The South Korean government has granted approval to begin construction on the world's first "invisible" tower.

Designed by U.S.-based GDS Architects, the glass-encased Tower Infinity will top out at 450 meters (1,476 feet) and have the third highest observation deck in the world.

The project is backed by Korea Land & Housing Corporation, a state-owned land and public housing developer.

The invisibility illusion will be achieved with a high-tech LED facade system that uses a series of cameras that will send real-time images onto the building's reflective surface.

It will be built just outside of Seoul near the Incheon International Airport.

Neither the developer nor GDS have released a target completion date.

The development will reportedly be used primarily for leisure activities. It will include a series of observation decks, a movie theater, roller coaster, water park and numerous food and beverage outlets.

Though height isn't its main selling point, Tower Infinity is no slouch in the vertical department.

When completed, it's expected to come in sixth on the list of the world's highest towers, behind Tokyo SkyTree, Guangzhou's CantonTower, Toronto's CN Tower, Moscow's Ostankino Tower and Shanghai's Oriental Pearl.

Editor's note: The original version of this paragraph said Tower Infinity would be one of the world's tallest buildings, not towers. The error has been corrected.

More: 13 scary-but-awesome viewing platforms

How the building will appear when the LED facade system isn\'t activated; then lit with 30% power; on the far right, 100% power.
How the building will appear when the LED facade system isn't activated; then lit with 30% power; on the far right, 100% power.

How it works

Tower Infinity's invisible face is essentially just state of the art camouflage.

Cameras will be placed at three different heights on six different sides of the building to capture real-time images of the surroundings; three other sections, each filled with 500 rows of LED screens, will project the individual digital images.

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

In essence, whatever is going on behind the building will be projected onto the front of the building.

According to GDS, managers will be able to alter the level of power used to give the building different levels of invisibility.

"Instead of symbolizing prominence as another of the world's tallest and best towers, our solution aims to provide the world's first invisible tower, showcasing innovative Korean technology while encouraging a more global narrative in the process," said Charles Wee, GDS design principal, in a statement.

In 2011 GDS, in collaboration with firms Samoo Architects and A&U, was awarded first prize in a National Design Competition sponsored by the Korea Land & Housing Corporation to provide design and engineering services for the observation tower.

More: Google captures view from world's tallest building

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