Tiger and Turtle
The locals call this sculpture the world’s slowest rollercoaster, but the most fitting name will be stroller coaster. It gives visitors the pleasure of a fairground ride without the speed usually characterized with rollercoaster rides. However, the official name is the Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain. This interactive installation-turned-landmark by Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter is located in the industrial region of Ruhr, Germany.
The Tiger and Turtle – Magic Mountain was ranked in 2013 as #6 Most Extreme Staircases by the HuffPost.
Not a real rollercoaster
Built in 2011, it stands at 21 meters tall. The installation resembles a traditional roller coaster. From a distance, the shiny spirals draw the viewer in, promising twists, turns, speed, and excitement, until you arrive and stand beneath the metal rings with 246 steps.
The vertical loop continues the walkway and stairs, though it is not possible to walk the construction; Tiger and Turtle can’t be used as a roller coaster. No one can walk up upside down steps. It is simply a walkway with stairs with no moving parts. It resembles a rollercoaster in nearly all manners except that the audience cannot ride the loop. Instead, they can just walk.
Everyone is allowed and free to explore the sculpture at their own pace, day or night. In the dark, 800 LED lights installed in the handrails illuminate the sculpture, making it resemble a curly-wurly beacon.
The idea behind it
A roller coaster for pedestrians: that is the main idea behind the design of Tiger and Turtle. The first impression of this gigantic structure is a fast rollercoaster, but when you come closer, you realize it is just a motionless spectacle.
Tiger and Turtle is the slowest roller coaster in the world, according to the local chaperon Frank Switala. It was supposed to be ready for the 2010 European Capital of Culture festivals but befittingly, was behind with its arrival. According to Mr. Switala, the sculpture was built as a protest against the speed with which modern society lives.
“We are living in a fast time today. Everything is changing so fast and very often people go on courses or to monasteries just to slow down. This is a place you can go and enjoy walking around.”
For so many years, Tiger and Turtle has been a symbolic transformation of the place that served as an industrial town.
How it was made
The piece is made of galvanized steel and cost two million Euros. The main construction of this frequently changing three-dimensional contour of the structure was bent by the company Kersten Europe. The huge thick-walled tubes were cut into length with welding edge preparation. Then the pieces were welded together to parts of about 12,750mm with conical side to side links on one end of the tubes. Each tube has a hole and lid in place of power cables. Additionally, each tube has a connection to each other.
How do visitors feel
Anyone can enter the sculpture and walk, run, race each other, with full understanding that they cannot loop the loop of the structure. The 200 meters and 249 stairs from one end to the other provide some sense of perspective. As once take on the steps to the summit, they begin to feel the strain in the legs; and feel a sense of relief when they curve back downwards.
There is no reeling in the stomach as a result of climbing up the stairs, rather a sense of relief and breathlessness when someone reaches the top of the loop and magnificent vistas of the region’s industrial activities past and present.
Ehinger Str. 117, 47249 Duisburg, Germany
Traditional roller coasters are known for the speed, anticipation, adrenaline, and excitement, but none of those are here. At first, the visitors may be disappointed at not having those excitements here.
The audience is required to climb to the top of the rollercoaster on foot via a set of steep stairs. Thus, the sculpture subtly and paradoxically plays with the conflict of promise and dissatisfaction and standstill and mobility.
Later, visitors realize something else that is not in any other roller coaster –slowing down the feeling of creating your own fun, a plodding moment to think about speed and slow, time and life, and change and transformation. You might ponder whether it is the best thing to indulge in the momentarily forgotten rush of the funfair.
Tiger and Turtle sits on the top of the magic mountain as a powerful contrast, a strange attempt at the reinvention of a roller coaster. This contemporary, precision-engineered sculpture only functions with human energy. It is an invitation to appreciate something conventional in an unconventional way; to slow down life and experience something that is usually over in a flash at a pace of a turtle.
When one stands beneath Tiger and Turtle, they may begin to envisage the impossible in slow motion.
The name of the sculpture, Tiger and Turtle, mirrors the dissimilarity between the speed and acceleration of a rollercoaster as well as the relaxing step by step exploration of the environment surrounding the site.
The material used to construct the sculpture, steel and zinc, represents the history of the location as this is where once upon a time, zinc was mined. Krupp Mannesmann, a steel-processing company, was located here as well. Tiger and Turtle can be enjoyed by everyone, old or young, from up-close or distance. Besides the walk, the sculpture itself is a breathtaking site both during the day and at night.