You won’t believe the National Building Museum’s ‘Fun House’

Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum.

By: Kate Michael

A funhouse at the National Building Museum was all the rage this summer. It wasn’t the type of funhouse you might find at a fair or carnival. But it had a lot in common. DC’s Fun House wasn’t garish or ghostly. It was actually a typical house in a lot of ways. But its fascinations still relied on active interaction and the distortion of conventional perceptions.

Part of the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party experiences, Fun House was all about design capabilities and proving just what the museum’s Great Hall could handle.  NYC-based Snarkitecture, a firm that blends the border between art and architecture, again wowed DC with its playful approach to materials (see also Playhouse (2017) and The Beach (2015)), creating an experiential art installation that educated and entertained.

Furthermore, the out-of-towners weren’t the only people angling to get in on the action. Fun House’s instagrammable intrigue and limited ticket allotment ensured that locals and visitors alike would be lining up for the eye-catching experience.

Equal parts wonder and whimsy, this was Snarkitecture’s first comprehensive museum exhibition, curated by Maria Cristina Didero. A freestanding house with many elements reminiscent of the firm’s previous temporary structures in the Museum’s Great Hall (though grander by far), nearly everything was white — a blank canvas for interactive creativity.

Fun House.
Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum.

Among the most popular rooms were the entryway, which featured 140 gypsum cast Air Jordan shoes “a nod to one of the Snarkitecture’s longest clients, a shoe brand in New York,” for which the company has designed stores.

There was also a Light Cavern in the bedroom that didn’t contain a bed. Instead, there are hundreds of white fabric strips that soothe and may tempt you to sleep! Guests also loved the Living Room pillow fort, the children’s play toy Marble Run, and of course, the Backyard “swimming pool” ball pit.  

Fun House
Photo courtesy of the National Building Museum.

As visitors walked through Fun House, they experienced a new way to interpret the built environment as well as an introduction to Snarkitecture’s 10 years of projects and clients.

Every room acknowledged its general function in the house, while also expressing an imaginative element. In total, Fun Home took visitors on a house tour that reimagined the idea of a traditional residence.  

It may have been pretty standard construction, but Fun House’s twist showcased Snarkitecture’s talent and the city’s thirst for the theatrical. Be on the lookout for more pop-up installations and future Summer Block Party announcements.