THE NATIONAL BUILDING MUSEUM IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED.

Fun House Guide

By Maria Cristina Didero

Just like the concept of “home” transcends the material idea of the house, the first comprehensive museum exhibition by Snarkitecture, is more than an interactive retrospective: Fun House, which extends over the much of the Museum’s historic Great Hall, embodies ten years of creative work by the New York–based practice. Snarkitecture’s signature touch operates on the edge between art and architecture by playfully exploring the nature of materials, everyday objects and environments. Shifting codes and breaking theoretical rules is the core of the collaborative studio, founded in 2008 by Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham, and joined by partner Benjamin Porto in 2014.

To celebrate their first decade of adventures, Snarkitecture took on a new challenge: to build their first house. Full–size and complete, but not real, this “fun house” hosts a selection of their most visionary past works, as well as new projects created specifically for this occasion. At first glance Fun House looks like an iconic suburban house, complete with front–yard and backyard, a playground for kids, and a pool, but when visitors come closer they soon realize that nothing is as it seems. Snarkitecture’s artistic skill has already started working its magic by a single simple gesture: the absence of color. Everything, from the ground to the roof, from the walls of the house to the pool, is painted white—the signature look of this peculiar firm’s work—representing an open window, a limitless world of possibilities, letting each viewer fully experience and interpret a personal set of meanings and reactions.

A custom recreation of Snarkitecture’s iconic A Memorial Bowing (2012), originally created to commemorate the Miami Orange Bowl Stadium, will welcome visitors into this peculiar “public property” from the front–yard. Instead of a conventional door, visitors will enter the house through an excavated hole in the facade, a tribute to Dig (2011) a project first executed in New York in 2011. Guests can let themselves wander in the house and start a journey reminiscent of Goldilocks and The Three Bears; they can stroll around, exploring and temporarily inhabiting every corner of this uncommonly common household, experiencing environments and objects that provoke wonder. Although it has no residents, this house does have an owner: it belongs to Snarkitecture, therefore their unique take inhabits every room in the form of visionary ideas and assignments. By entering Fun House, guests become part of a world where time and space can’t be defined, and where fantasy and reality coexist. The journey through the interiors is intended to be emotional, not just physical : each room plays on the familiar layout and themes of the iconic American home—kitchen, bathroom, attic, and even a back yard, complete with a pool. Each space creates new meanings through word–play, double–take, surprise, wonder, disbelief, games between surface and excavation, strangers and guests, mirroring concepts, technics and tactics—all of which are part of Snarkitecture’s creative language. The constant change of scenery within the different quarters conveys the intriguing plot of this collective studio as a series of episodes, displaying technique and creativity, while underlining the strength and consistency of their methodology to the limitless universe of architecture and inspiration. At the end of this journey guests exit the house towards the East Court, or “backyard,” greeted by Playhouse (2017), a kidney–shaped pool filled with hundreds of thousands of recyclable plastic balls, reminiscent of The BEACH—initially commissioned by the National Building Museum for Snarkitecture’s first project for the Summer Block Party 2015.

Snarkitecture’s artistic process follows a straightforward approach in three steps: observing reality through unusual lenses, reformulating it through a peculiar set of filters, and finally delivering an original outcome, shifting our beliefs about the familiar and unfamiliar. With this conceptual perspective on singular experiences, Snarkitecture creates unexpected and memorable flashes, inviting people to explore and engage with their surroundings through Snarkitecture’s eyes. Snarkitecture creates its own universe through a dense and lucid design process, augmented by constant research of balance, , encapsulating layers of various meanings within a vivid setting. “Fun House,” say the architects themselves, “represents a unique opportunity for us to bring together a number of different Snarkitecture–designed interiors, installations, and objects into a single, immersive experience.” With over 40 objects and installations spread throughout eleven different spaces, Fun House aims to make architecture accessible to a wide and diverse audience, inviting people to discover this unpredictable universe and play with it.