the national building museum has just opened a massive interactive exhibition dedicated to the whimsical and wild work of snarkitecture — the new york-based collaborative practice led by alex mustonen, daniel arsham, and ben porto. ‘fun house’ infills the washington DC institution’s historic great hall with a collection of installations, a sequence of interactive rooms, and well-known snarkitecture environments that further delve into the prolific activities of the studio.


curated by maria cristina didero, the heart of the show is exhibited within a snarkitecture-designed house — a freestanding architectural element that recalls the image of a traditional home. as visitors walk through the structure, they discover the studio’s ten year story and uncover its unusual way of reinterpreting the built environment.

snarkitecture fun house
all images by noah kalina



meanwhile, in the national building museum’s west court, a custom typographic recreation of ‘a memorial bowing’ welcomes visitors into the space, spelling out ‘fun house’. visitors exit towards the museum’s ‘backyard’ and are greeted by ‘playhouse‘ — a structure that gradually diminishes in scale — and a kidney-shaped pool filled with hundreds of thousands of recyclable plastic balls, reminiscent of ‘the beach‘, which snarkitecture previously presented in the museum back in 2015.


‘fun house represents a unique opportunity for us to bring together a number of different snarkitecture-designed interiors, installations, and objects into a single, immersive experience,’ said alex mustonen, co-founder of snarkitecture. ‘our practice aims to create moments that make architecture accessible and engaging to a wide, diverse audience. with that in mind, we are excited to invite all visitors to the national building museum to an exhibition and installation that we hope is both unexpected and memorable.’

snarkitecture fun house
‘fun house’ infills the washington DC institution’s historic great hall



ahead of the opening, designboom spoke with exhibition curator maria cristina didero about her collaboration with snarkitecture, the themes that unite the show, and what to expect during a day at ‘fun house’.


designboom (DB): you’ve worked with snarkitecture before and have recently written the introduction of their first monograph. which aspects of snarkitecture’s work interests you most?


maria cristina didero (MC): I believe the work of this unique collective based in NY is always peculiar and surprising. I am — and I have always been — intrigued by the way they look into things, being them a huge immersive installation or a small little object for everyday life use, but most of all I’m fascinated by the way they pass and apply their own vision to the world out there.

snarkitecture fun house
a collection of installations, a sequence of interactive rooms, and snarkitecture environments are on view



DB: what are some of the interesting things you have observed about snarkitecture’s working habits and approach to projects?


MC: I think it is all about the approach towards projects, people involved in and given contexts. they have an unconventional and intuitive attitude to face any kind of commission or new adventure, but all the time their touch is highly recognizable. I’m interested in the way they can transform anything into surprise and how they are able to switch reality to create their own.

snarkitecture fun house
the show delves in to the prolific activities of the studio



DB: is there a particular theme that unites ‘fun house’, both in terms of previous work shown, and concepts developed specifically for the exhibition?


MC: this show intends to be the celebration of the first ten years of the practice. we wanted to present the activities of a decade in a different way, so the narrative expedient of the house — the basic element of architecture — was for us a good way to display some of the most interesting projects realized so far. from the house, which of course is a white house (only few kilometers away from the real one), we expanded also to create a courtyard and a pool so to reformulate a very simple environment for the audience — house, courtyard, pool, garden etc; an environment that turns out to be very familiar and yet very unconventional… their famous ‘beach’ comes back to its original site, will appear reinterpreted and adapted for this occasion and becomes a bean-shape house pool. so, again: the extraordinary becomes, in this case, ordinary and vice-versa.

snarkitecture fun house
a kidney-shaped pool is filled with hundreds of thousands of recyclable plastic balls



DB: what was the criteria in selecting the works from the studio’s diverse portfolio of projects?


MC: we have adapted some projects to the very specific context of the family-house, making a selection of those which could fit well into this fictional traditional partition of the ‘traditional’ spaces — kitchen, bathroom, studio and so forth.

snarkitecture fun house
daniel arsham takes a dip 



DB: how has your collaboration with the team evolved from your initial encounters to the eventual realization of the exhibition?


MC: when I proposed to alex, daniel and ben the concept of a prefabricated house as a potential container of the works, we all suddenly understood that it would have been a very ambitious approach to configure a ten year anniversary show. we were happy that an institution such as the national building museum understood the potentialities of it and accepted to present it. what we present is almost a parasite white house inside the museum.

snarkitecture fun house
‘playhouse’ is a house-shaped structure that gradually diminishes in scale



DB: after a day at ‘fun house’, what are the reactions you hope visitors come away with?


MC: I am curious myself about seeing this house up there finally, and I’m wondering how people will react to it!

snarkitecture fun house
the immersive exhibit allows the public to be a part of the artworks 

snarkitecture fun house
‘our practice aims to create moments that make architecture accessible,’ alex mustonen explains 

snarkitecture fun house
the exhibit is on view from now through september 3, 2018