Sunday, 22 September 2013

Houdini Tower

Don't know how I missed this. Oh, that leads to a lot of lame jokes.

Korea Will Soon Be Home To The World's First 'Invisible' Skyscraper reads the headline in Business Insider Australia, a site that doesn't seem to have all that much with business.  The article goes on to describe a proposal from GDS Architects, for a very tall tower clad with an LED facade system with optical cameras to display what’s directly behind the building. When turned on, the “reflective skin” of the building will give the illusion that Tower Infinity is blending in with the skyline.

Better to read the original article, replete with illustrations. It's amazing how easy it is to whip up alternative realities these days in Photoshop, describe them with verbs that blur the distinction between the imagined rhetoric and the built outcome. No point my summarizing the breathless claims here.

Why the reference to the great escapologist in the headline of this post?  Harry Houdini famously claimed that he could make an elephant disappear in a crowded room.  While the simile is attractive, the metaphor is compelling.  It was Houdini's explanation of the trick that is the most relevant: that he would do it by distracting us.

BMW had a go at this idea, and executed it in the flesh, for a promotion,  As a car advertisement, it was amusing, and the question could be safely asked: Who in their right minds would actually do this for real?  Ad campaign over, the car could be safely relegated to the BMW museum, or wherever they retire such engaging toys.  But a building?
So, why exactly would you want to make a very tall tower very near Seoul's international airport invisible?  I guess you really wouldn't.  It's just an excuse to propose a giant billboard.  After all, "the building’s projections may also be used for broadcasting special events, or for advertising purposes, according to GDS Architects".  But that isn't the real distraction.

For the price of a couple of undergraduate renderings and a well placed media release, GDS Architects have as much promotional exposure as if they had actually built a worthwhile building.  Magic, isn't it?

Read the rest of the article here.

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