The Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, has one of the highest concentrations of Good Design on the planet — a confluence of A+ architecture and furnishings, complete with a dedicated museum. Now, the site is also home to a 30.48m-tall twisty slide.
Of course, this isn’t just a twisty slide. It’s also art that enables a “new and unique experience of self”. Part of it is a sculptural observation deck that looks out onto the expanse of verdant hills surrounding the scene. It allows for a perspective on the world around that you just can’t get from the ground, or from indoors, without the wind in your hair. The other part is a slide that looks incredibly fun. The most enjoyable mode of vertical transport? Quite possibly. (Check out a timelapse of its construction here.)
Belgian artist Carsten Höller created the piece for people to interact with, visually and physically. He topped the tower with a rotating clock — illuminated at night and Vitra-branded, natch — that’s tilted to the side and sans-numbers, meaning it’s tough to actually tell the time.
Which is fitting, actually, because I imagine that grown-ups who trudge up the double-flight staircase to the top and take the quick corkscrew down will feel like they’re travelling back in time to their youth. I mean, c’mon — when was the last time you took on a twisty slide?
Another question: What’s this playful thing doing in this location, anyway? Well, it actually makes perfect sense. The first installation on the premises were these charmingly oversized Balancing Tools by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, completed back in 1984. And take a look at the VitraHaus by Herzog and de Meuron, a flagship store which takes the traditional A-frame form, multiplies it, then stacks the structures off-kilter on top of the other like Jenga blocks. The interior has a showroom feel, sure, but it’s also got tons of cosy and homey touches — like someplace that seems like a nice place to spend an afternoon.
When seen in the shadow of Höller’s colossal curlicue, the whole campus seems like a kind of wonderland. Which, in a way, it is. And: Open to the public! Wheee!