The National Building Museum has been gaining more and more attention in the news for its upcoming summer-centric installation, otherwise known as the BEACH. Meant to appeal to one's inner child, the BEACH will create a massive ball pit with one million recyclable translucent plastic balls in roughly 10,000-square-feet of space. New York-based design firm Snarkitecture dreamed up the idea with hopes for it to transport Washington, D.C. residents and tourists to a relaxing home-away-from-home with beach chairs, umbrellas, and even a concession stand operated through a partnership with Union Kitchen. The design firm is known for such projects as the floating cave-like room, Drift, and a 90-square-foot bedroom covered in 25,000 hand-painted Ping Pong balls. Snarkitecture Co-founder Alex Mustonen took a moment to answer some of Curbed DC's questions on how the idea for a "beach" made out of plastic balls was formed and what other new projects you should expect. To see the BEACH before it opens on July 4, check out the live stream of its construction here.
Is this your first time doing any work in D.C.?
Yes, The Beach will be our debut project in D.C., and we are very excited to be here!
Where did the idea of the beach/ball pit come from?
The beach is a traditional summer destination, but one that is not easily accessible from the D.C. area. Also, a lot of our work looks to ideas of play and how children (mis)use architecture — both of these can be found at the beach, especially one made from nearly a million ball bit balls.
Were there other installation ideas that didn't make the cut?
There are always a few directions in discussion at the start of the project, but this was the first concept we proposed to the NBM.
What's it been like working with the National Building Museum?
Working with the National Building Museum has been a smooth process. The museum has a very supportive staff and provided many resources and connections to help make this idea a reality.
What have been some of the biggest challenges to creating the BEACH?
Nobody said creating a 10,000-square-foot indoor beach made from nearly a million balls was going to be easy! One of the biggest challenges was finding a manufacturer for the balls — fortunately we were able to source the balls in the USA and ended up working with a company based in North Carolina.
Has Snarkitecture ever used ball pit elements in any previous works?
It's something we've been talking about for a while, but we never really had the right project until National Building Museum approached us to create this installation over the summer.
From the walls to the balls to the beach chairs, everything in the installation is going to be white. Why create an all-white setting?
A lot of this is about the idea of reduction. Simplifying things from our everyday surroundings in order to create an immersive experience that is both unexpected and memorable. Visitors are more attuned to their surroundings and their own experience if they are not being distracted by a multitude of colors or textures.
Any big plans for your next installation?
Of course. The studio is busy working on a number of projects beyond this one, starting with Fashion Week this fall, designs for several new retail stores opening throughout the fall and winter, a couple installations this holiday season, and a number of new objects. Stay tuned.
· Snarkitecture [Official Website]
· Inside Snarkitecture's Cave-like Entrance To Design Miami [Curbed Miami]
· Greenpoint Loft is Totally Bonkers, Even for Greenpoint [Curbed NY]
· National Building Museum to Create a Giant Ball Pit Because Why Not [Curbed DC]
· Check Out D.C.'s Biggest Ball Pit Under Construction Right Now [Curbed DC]