The Bankstown Optical Illusion

While it’s not nearly as impressive as his awesome tour of the 1977 Tenerife Airport disaster, Peter Olsen has sent us another pretty neat file for Google Earth.
This time it’s a model of the “Bankstown Optical Illusion”. This is a two-sided building with a partial roof that was constructed near Bankstown Airport in Sydney. As you pass the building, the illusion makes it appear to be rotating in the wrong direction! You can read about the building in the Google 3D Warehouse, or download the KML to fly there yourself. If you fly there, here is how to make the illusion happen (in Peter’s words):

Do not zoom in. Simply attempt to rotate the model anticlockwise (click and hold the mouse wheel and drag the mouse right). Or pan to the right (click and hold the mouse wheel and shift key and drag mouse right). Notice that the model seems to rotate the wrong way.

Notice also when attempting to rotate the model anticlockwise that the end wall will suddenly seem to becomes transparent.

If you’d rather just see the illusion, I’ve created this short video. It shows the illusion, then zooms closer on the building so you can see how it was actually constructed:

The Google Earth imagery in the area isn’t fresh enough to show the building, but you can view it on NearMap to see what it looks like from above.
As always, nice work Peter!

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. ronajon says:
  2. samgranger says:

    This is a mess ….. it is a moderated form of
    a 3 d perspective …. What about an horizon
    with everything being focussed on that point .
    I t doesnt make sense … even in a multi
    perspective presentation .. anyway keep trying .
    sam granger

  3. The same can be found in the United States in Washington D.C., right off the Washington Mall! It is located in the National Art Gallery’s sculpture garden, and is the work of American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997).

  4. I pass this “illusion” every day and I am always fascinated by it, so much so that I got out of the car for a close inspection and was amazed it is nothing like what it appears from the moving car,,, the little house appears to be turning in the direction of your car’s travel. I was wandering who designed it. Now I know.
    Clever job indeed.
    Good work but I hope it does not distract drivers and cause an accident.

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