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The eighth wonder of the world? 'Step into The Void'

updated 12:15 AM EST, Tue February 4, 2014
Inspired by "The Skywalk" -- the glass walkway overlooking the Grand Canyon in Arizona -- French designer Pierre-Yves Chays has created "Step into the Void," a glass cube overhanging the Alps. Inspired by "The Skywalk" -- the glass walkway overlooking the Grand Canyon in Arizona -- French designer Pierre-Yves Chays has created "Step into the Void," a glass cube overhanging the Alps.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Step into the Void" is a glass room built around a metal frame in mountains
  • Structure installed at Aiguille du Midi peak above Chamonix in French Alps
  • It can withstand winds of more than 220 kph
  • Visitors can take a 20-minute ride to the top in a cable car

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(CNN) -- If you're scared of heights, then this is not for you.

But for those who love an adrenaline buzz, then "step into the void" -- a suspended glass cube with a transparent bottom overlooking the Alps.

But it's not for the fainthearted -- there's a drop of over 3,300 feet (1,000 meters).

A rival to the London Shard, which stands at 1,017 feet (310 meters) and offers a 360-degree view of the city, it is the latest piece of architecture to attract thousands of tourists.

Designed by Pierre-Yves Chays, the structure is inspired by "The Skywalk," a huge glass walkway overlooking the Grand Canyon in the U.S. state of Arizona.

Perched at the top of the 12,600-foot (3,842-meter) Aiguille du Midi peak near Chamonix, France, it gives a view of Mont Blanc which had previously only been attainable by skiing.

"I don't know if I can do it," were the first words to flash into the mind of Mathieu Dechavanne, the man who helped create the attraction.

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After three years of development, Compagnie Mont Blanc, the firm which operates the ski lifts and attractions in the area, has created a structure made from three layers of tempered glass which can withstand winds of up to 200 kilometers an hour.

The stupendous view captures the highest peaks in France, Italy and Switzerland, as well as the biggest glaciers in Europe.

"The original idea was to create something even bigger to cross from one end to another," Dechavanne, general manager of Compagnie Mont Blanc, told CNN.

"One of the main conditions we had was that the design fitted in with the environment of the site.

"If that wasn't possible, we wanted to do something to allow the visitor to step into the shoes of a mountaineer.

"We wanted people to understand what was going on at altitude. From the void, you can see people climbing and making their way up the mountain.

"You can also try to climb if you want but if you want the sensation of what it's like at the top then try this transparent box and you can gain a real experience."

While the view may be enough to send shivers down the spine, the journey to the very top might leave a few feeling queasy.

To get to the top, patrons must brave a cable car ride which takes them 8,858 feet (2,700 meters) up the side of the mountain.

Once that's been completed, it's on board a second cable car for the final 4,790 feet (1,460 meters) to ascend to the peak.

"The view is fantastic," added Dechavanne. "The beauty is that the void is beneath the feet but the impact on the brain comes from the transparency of the glass."

"It's not like walking in the street, but this gives the impression to people of what it's like on the mountain."

To compare how "The Void" compares to other viewing structures around the world, Toronto's CN Tower -- named one of the modern world's Seven Wonders by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1995 -- is 1,815 feet (553 meters) tall and its highest platform is at 1,465 feet (447 meters).

It has since been overtaken by Shanghai's World Financial Center, which has an observation deck at 1,555 feet (474 meters), and Guangzhou's Canton Tower (1,601 feet, 488 meters).

In 2012, the tallest hotel in the world was opened in Dubai -- the Marquis, standing at 1,164 feet (355 meters) tall -- while its owner Marriott recently unveiled its newest property in New York.

The Residence Inn consists of 68 floors and stands at 750 feet (228 meters) -- making it the tallest hotel in the U.S.

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