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How to Make a 1,476-Foot Tall Tower Disappear

A high-tech camouflage system will allow Seoul's City Tower to seamlessly blend in with its background.

GDS Architects

As buildings around the world continue to get bigger, broader and, ultimately, harder to miss, South Korea is busy conceiving of a tower that can disappear.

South Korea’s government recently approved the construction of what’s officially being called the City Tower, but has also been dubbed Tower Infinity. The structure, near Seoul’s Incheon airport, will stand 450 meters (1,476 feet) tall, and come equipped with a high-tech camouflage system, which will allow the tower to seamlessly blend in with its background.

The basis of the building’s invisibility cloak is a system that captures images of whatever is behind the building and projects them on to the building’s opposite side, making it look as if you can see through it. The system will consist of a series of cameras set at three different heights and six different sides of the building, to capture the images, and 500 rows of LED screens to project them. The invisibility trick will only be used for short periods and at specific times, but even then the tower will at the very least remain visible to pilots, who will be able to use the structure’s red aircraft warning lights to avoid it.

Upon completion, the skyscraper, designed by US-based architectural firm GDS Architects, will sport the third highest observation deck in the world, and rank as the world’s sixth largest tower (Tokyo’s SkyTree, Guangzhou’s CantonTower, Toronto’s CN Tower, Moscow’s Ostankino Tower and Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl are still expected to stand taller). State-owned land and public housing developer, Korea Land & Housing Corporation, is slated to back the project. No completion date has been announced yet.
Upon completion, the Infinity Tower will top out at 450 meters (1,476 feet). (GDS Architects)
Tower South Korea
The City Tower will stand near Seoul’s international airport, and be visible for miles—except for when it isn’t. (GDS Architects)
Tower South Korea
The building’s camouflage will work best at specific hours of the day, and suffer slightly at night when use of the building’s interior lighting is ramped up. (GDS Architects)
Infinity Tower
According to GDS Architects, the firm in charge of the tower’s design, building managers will be able to adjust the structure’s level of invisibility. (GDS Architects)
Tower South Korea
The “invisible” tower will sport the world’s third tallest viewing point. (GDS Architects)

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

  • Roberto A. Ferdman is a reporter at Quartz, where he focuses on Latin American business and economics.