Since a couple of days my news feed is filled with articles with the headlines “Seoul’s Invisible Tower”, “World’s First Invisible Skyscraper in Seoul, Korea”, “Infinity Tower Will Light Up Seoul’s Sky” and so on. On the right you can see a picture of picture of the planned skyscraper. The origin of this buzz is an article at Archinect about the official permission to begin construction. A lot of friends also posted articles on Facebook, which emphasized the obscurity of this project. All articles contain wrong information which I will try to correct as best as possible. This article is going to clarify the location and context of the project.
While doing research for this issue, I wasn’t easy to find Korean articles about this building. It seems like that the official name of the building is “Cheongna City Tower”. The winner of the design competition GDS Architects named it as “Tower Infinity”. In this post I’ll just use the Tower Infinity or Infinity Tower because this is probably the least important mistake.
Every article has the location wrong. It’s NOT Yongsan in Seoul (and Yongsan also doesn’t lie in the outskirts of Seoul), it’s NOT Seoul at all. Even the official announcement gives a very vague description of the location:
“… construction near Incheon International Airport just outside of Seoul, Korea.”
The truth is that the skyscraper is going to be build in Incheon, which is a city west of Seoul. Incheon is the third-largest city of Korea and there you can find popular urban project like Songdo. The Asian Games 2014 will be held there, too. I think that the reason for this misunderstanding is that Incheon is part of the Seoul Capital Area, which summarizes Seoul and it’s neighboring cities Incheon, Suwon, Goyang, Seongnam and many others as one large urban area. In total, it’s an area with a population of over 25 million people. Another reason is that Seoul is a global city and worldwide-known, while Incheon is a fairly unknown city to the world.
The second misunderstanding is that it’s close to the Incheon International Airport and thus, some articles mention that it’s a stupid idea to build an “invisible” 450 meter skyscraper near an airport. Here’s the exact future location of the Tower Infinity:
In the map you can see a large island on the left part. That’s where Incheon International Airport is. The purple pin shows the location of the Tower Infinity. It lies close to the airport (distance is around 18 km) but all planes are either coming from northwest or southeast. None of the airplanes will get close to the skyscraper.
The Tower Infinity is actually part of Cheongna International City. We mentioned this project in this post about the AREX. The project area is 17.8 square kilometer large and around the prospected population is 90,000. Constructions in this area are already in full swing. Until 2014 the lake park around the skyscraper is supposed to be completed. The Archinect-article doesn’t say how long the construction takes. There have been some problems securing funds for this project. Here’s an old promotional video of the project:
Another, newer video in Korean can be viewed here. The amazing thing about this building is that LED screens are going to let the building “disappear”. This CNN article delivers a good description of the system. Cameras are capturing the area behind the building and LED screens are projecting this background to the facade of the skyscraper. So the building isn’t invisible. Like a chameleon it can adapt to the colors of the surrounding.