A giant ball pit you can jump in is coming to downtown Detroit

Posted on February 22, 2019

There’s a new wave of interactive public art heading for downtown Detroit.

New York-based design studio Snarkitecture will open a Detroit edition of its traveling exhibit “The Beach” on the ground floor of 1001 Woodward Avenue just across the street from the Campus Martius skating rink.

Free and open to adults and kids, “The Beach Detroit” will open on March 1 and stand in stark visual contrast to the Rainbow City Roller Rink concept it’s replacing.

Instead of putting on roller skates, guests will be asked to take off their shoes, bring an extra pair of socks and jump into a giant ball pit of recycled, antimicrobial plastic balls designed to imitate the ocean.

Everything you’d expect from a typical day at the beach is part of the installation. A pier allows you to walk across the ocean of plastic balls. There are deck chairs, umbrellas and even a lifeguard stand.

“The Beach Detroit,” however, is minimalist and monochromatic, stripping away color from these elements to create a blank white canvas. White artificial turf even helps replicate the feeling of sand underneath your feet.

“The people become the color when you strip away all the extraneous visual noise of materials,” says Snarkitecture partner Ben Porto, who says the design firm is focused on finding the interactive “space between art and architecture.”

The all-white-everything color scheme also causes “confusion around what that material is,” adds Porto. “It’s a way to get you to come up and engage with it because you want to touch it to figure out what it is. In a white gallery space, you’re usually not asked to touch the art.”

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Ryan Patrick Hooper, Detroit Free Press.