THE WORLD’S LARGEST PORTABLE FERRIS WHEEL
Pop-up culture makes the Guinness Book in Bavaria’s capital
Over the past decade and a half, cities around the world have witnessed the steady rise of a commercial phenomenon characterized by its deliberate adoption,
often to enormous success, of the one circumstance that traditional business models seek to avoid at all costs: going out of business.
That phenomenon is ‘pop-up culture’, and for a limited time (obviously) it can be seen adorning the skyline of Bavaria’s capital in the form of the world’s largest
portable ferris wheel, or Riesenrad, as they are called in Germany.
Erected in April 2019 under the name ‘Hi-Sky München’, the recently renamed ‘Umadum’, which means ‘rundherum’ or ‘all around’ in Bavarian, was conceived much the same way all pop-ups are: as a means of temporarily monetizing and enlivening dead urban space.
The 78-meter-tall observation wheel is located next to Munich’s Ostbahnhof in the vibrant Werksviertel district, known for its eclectic array of nightclubs, restaurants,
shops, loft offices, and shipping containers converted into bars, boutiques, art galleries, and so on. The wheel itself—quite possibly the world’s most flamboyant
placeholder, and officially Germany’s biggest Riesenrad of any stripe, portable or not—stands on the site of the future home of the Bayrischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra.
Construction of the concert hall was originally slated to begin as early as mid-2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed those plans indefinitely.
As a result, the Umadum currently enjoys a much longer tenure than expected as one of Munich’s most conspicuous landmarks.
A standard ride on the Umadum lasts thirty minutes. Revolving at a relatively slow speed of less than 0.5km/h, the wheel grants each of its twenty-seven
cabins ample time to take in an elevated view not only of Munich, but of the neighboring Alps as well. VIP packages lasting an hour or longer are also available.
Groups of up to sixteen passengers can order specially catered cabins stocked with beer, wine, prosecco, or even a traditional Bavarian Weißwurst brunch.
Mathematically speaking, you can invite 431 of your closest friends and rent out the entire ferris wheel for one heck of a sausage party.
So, when will this historic landmark disappear? Your guess is as good as ours. All we know is that once construction on the symphony hall finally begins,
Germany’s largest ferris wheel will be swiftly packed away into eighty shipping containers. Whether or not—and where—it will rise again, only time will tell.
For now, all we can do is hop on, ride, and enjoy the view.