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Vitra Slide Tower

Vitra Slide Tower

Carsten Holler 2014

Instructions for weightlessness Slides are a specific element in Höller’s work. In 2006, he constructed the giant slide installation Test Site in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in London. In earlier works, Höller investigated the question of happiness; he constructed carrousels to provide a tangible experience of the sensation of flying; walls of light confound the sense of space; reverse vision glasses make the world appear inverted (1994–2009); and with the Phi phenomenon (1994) he provokes sensory illusions. In such ways, Höller undermines accustomed forms of perception, calling on the participation of the viewer with his experimental set-ups and creating opportunities for self-experimentation. Höller’s installations are sculptures of discovery. They offer the possibility of inner experiments leading to the exploration of self. In this concept of the experiment, Höller the scientist remains present.

The construction of the Vitra Slide Tower The Vitra Slide Tower consists of three diagonal columns that meet at the top, with a revolving clock mounted at their point of intersection measuring six metres in diameter. The tower can be ascended by visitors and is vertically accessed via a double-flight staircase fitted into the slanted columns with intermediate landings. A viewing platform at a height of 17 metres offers new perspectives of the Vitra Campus and the surrounding landscape. The platform also serves as the starting platform for the 38-metre-long corkscrew tube slide.

Carsten Höller on slides
"A slide is a sculptural work with a pragmatic aspect, a sculpture that you can travel inside. However, it would be a mistake to think that you have to use the slide to make sense of it. Looking at the work from the outside is a different but equally valid experience, just as one might contemplate The Endless Column by Constantin Brancusi from 1938. From an architectural and practical perspective, the slides are one of the building’s means of transporting people, equivalent to the escalators, elevators or stairs. Slides deliver people quickly, safely and elegantly to their destinations, they’re inexpensive to construct and energy-efficient. They’re also a device for experiencing an emotional state that is a unique condition somewhere between delight and madness. It was described in the fifties by the French writer Roger Caillois as “a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind.”

Video: Petra Ehlers / Marek Iwicki / Holger Hahn (Der achte Ozean)
Engineering drawing: Wiegand
Engineering drawing "clock": Perrot ­ Turmuhren und Läuteanlagen / Nordlicht
Portrait of Carsten Höller: John Scarisbrick
Photographies Vitra Slide Tower: Julien Lanoo / Attilio Maranzan