By Elizabeth Patterson
When you hear the word “beach”, you might think of sand, fun in the sun and surfing. Design group Snarkitecture thinks of something a bit different: like 750,000 white plastic balls. The group has converted the National Building Museum’s great hall into a man-made beach covering more than 10,000 square feet. Complete with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and ledges to dive off of, The Beach is meant to capture the fun, relaxed feeling of a day at the beach.
The installation, essentially a giant ball pit, is fun for children and adults alike. Enclosed in a structure of scaffolding, drywall and mirror, The Beach looks like a serene dive into another world. The translucent white balls almost look like bubbles from afar, conjuring the idea of being in a gigantic bubble bath. Contrasted with the classical architecture of the museum (like its colossal marble pillars), the installation becomes a modern feat, immediately drawing the eye and beckoning you to jump in its monochromatic depths. It also provides for guests to have an interactive experience with art, instead of the oft-seen “DO NOT TOUCH” signs museums are notorious for. Above all, it’s a laid-back, joyous experience that captures the essence of all the best parts of a beach day and none of the bad (think sunburns and sand in unspeakable places).
Snarkitecture, made up of Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham, commonly thinks big with their works. White is a favorite color of theirs and creates an otherworldly atmosphere to their installations, which have included fashion show set designs and temporary installations for brands. The Beach is possibly their biggest installation yet, and certainly their most ambitious.
The Beach is on view at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. until September 7, 2015.