The World’s Slowest Roller Coaster?

Posted by Brendan Brehm on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Crouching Tiger and Turtle by Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter

We’ve introduced you to many different types of roller coasters here at EntertainmentDesigner.com, but never one quite like Crouching Tiger and Turtle. From a distance, it looks just like an ordinary roller coaster – perhaps a little on the small side, but a roller coaster nonetheless. Then you might notice that it stands entirely on its own. It’s not part of a park or fair, but a single roller coaster on top of a hill in Duisburg, Germany. As you get closer, that’s when you’ll notice something really strange: there are no cars on this ride. Instead, people are walking along what looked like tracks from a distance, but are actually stairs.

Crouching Tiger and Turtle is a unique roller coaster-inspired public sculpture by Ulrich Genth and Heike Mutter. What they have done is the complete opposite of what is happening in the roller coaster industry. Instead of creating the fastest experience possible, they’ve totally slowed things down. Roller coaster riders are used to being whipped around tight turns and jammed against their seats as they fly through multiple inversions. Genth and Mutter, however, want visitors to their sculpture to appreciate the curving structure and the wonderful views of the surrounding landscape at a nice, slow pace.

Crouching Tiger and Turtle by Ulrich Genth And Heike Mutter

This unusual structure also has a strong connection with the city’s industry through the materials it was built with: zinc and steel. The recreational space that Crouching Tiger and Turtle has been installed on was once a zinc mine. Furthermore, a major steel manufacturing company, Krupp Mannesman, is located in Duisburg. This walkable roller coaster pays homage to the city’s metallic history and allows visitors to experience the landscape of their city in a new way facilitated by the very metals that support the city’s industry.

So what’s up with the name of the sculpture?  To many people, it will recall the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but martial arts don’t really fit into this picture. According to the sculptors, the title references the disparity between what the sculpture represents and how it must be explored. While roller coasters are associated with speed (like a crouching tiger ready to pounce), visitors to this sculpture have to walk along it at a slow pace (like a turtle). It may be difficult for those used to fast paced roller coasters to appreciate the slow speed at which this one must be explored, but slowing things down for a minute never killed anyone. Oh, and if you were wondering how anyone can walk upside down through the inversion, that section has been closed off and you cant actually walk on it. If Genth and Mutter really want to up the ante, next time they will have to  come up with some way for visitors to walk upside down.

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