In the present times when abstract pieces have become the soul of contemporary art, the Hoki Museum in Japan is the first museum housing only hyper-realistic paintings. Located in the suburban area of Chiba prefecture, the Hoki Museum is a private exhibit of a Japanese business tycoon, Masao Hoki. The museum holds a collection of nearly 480 paintings meticulously collected over many years. Although, in its real essence, the aim of the museum is not only to showcase delicate paintings but also to reconstruct and embellish new meanings of realistic art into the world. Following the same concept, the design of the museum is conceived on the notes of reconstructivism and modern embellishments.  

Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet1
The Hoki Museum – Japan, iUrban_

Winning various facilitations and recognitions from around the world, the Hoki Museum is a unique conceptualization of a renowned Japan-based firm, Nikken Sekkei. Wildly experimenting with the form of the building, it is essentially composed of gently curving tubes that are stacked on top of each other. These overlapping tubes are moderately resembling a double helix, providing linear galleries spread over a total floor area of approximately 3700 sq. m. The layout with these slightly curving walls and such large corridors extends the ease of recognizing the paintings to the viewer from any particular position at a glance. In this way, it provides the visitors to not just follow the traditional way of wandering in a particular direction at a museum but to also take random way access as they traverse through the gallery.  

Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet2
The Hoki- stacked and gently curving tubes_architecturalmoleskine-blogspot,

As explained by the architect himself, Tomohiko Yamanashi, the gallery was meant to interest people to view realistic art differently. The focus was supposed to be on the paintings rather than the architecture around them. Hence, the building was derived as a “Gallery degree zero”, where the cliched architectural elements like protruding columns, dividing partitions, lighting fixtures, or joints of any kind were avoided to facilitate a deeper concentration and interpretations of the painting. The erasing of the architecture to have a seamless impression of the museum was an idea derived from the design of a ship imitating its smooth, continuous, and welded structure.  

Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet3
Upper floor plan- Hoki Museum, ArchitectureWeek_

Branching off in three different levels, the museum begins at the upper ground level and descends into the lower levels below the ground. Inside these longbow-like galleries, the paintings are set in a sequence through the vision of Masao Hoki himself, projecting an arrangement with which he enjoyed his personal collection. Reflecting on his own experience of the artwork he has curated the paintings in a mixed-up manner instead of organizing them in a categorized way to instigate a unique psychological narrative in the mind of the visitors. The unorthodox manners of representation in this museum have turned out to be ideal for its art gallery since it showcases the realistic paintings in a futuristic way and magnetizes more and more visitors to explore the inquisitiveness of its perspective. 

Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet4
Curved and longitudinal gallery, Hoki Museum, Artscape_

The seamlessness of its architecture begins as a gradual process when the visitors enter the museum at the upper floor level. The gallery at this level displays the paintings coherently without any distracting elements in the interior. Even the lighting in the galleries have been kept in a way that they merge with the paintings providing more focus rather than standing out. The end of the upper-level gallery opens up in a huge window that lets natural light on the inside, allowing this gallery to have a mix of both, artificial and natural light. Its positioning towards the end of the tube provides a soothing sight of the lush greens around the site. 

As the visitors follow to the lower levels, the natural light eventually reduces, making the bottommost gallery the darkest space and housing large-sized paintings. The architect explains such play of lights by saying that on the upper-level floor “the atmosphere makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. People start to see the paintings and talk about them… as the amount of natural light becomes less, they start to concentrate on the pictures… as the natural light is reduced to almost nothing, becoming a dark space, people start to concentrate on the picture more wholeheartedly.” As the visitors walk through such a play of light and concealed architecture, their behavior changes from a very relaxed mood to deep concentration, with a shift from talking about the paintings to solely introspecting them.  

Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet5
Ribbon Skylight, Hoki Museum, ArchitectureWeek_
Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei - Sheet6
Cantilever tube with opening towards the park, architecturalmoleskine-blogspot,_

In terms of the layout, the museum provides a very unique experience for its visitors. While the architecture on the inside is kept relatively disguised, the building form from the outside is indeed strikingly imposing. Two of the gallery floors are below the ground, however, the upper-level gallery is slightly uplifted with about 30 meters of floor plate cantilevered and dramatically thrusting into the space. It is obvious that this cantilevered tube stemmed out to give the building an eye-catching profile, but it essentially grew out of the site profile. The site was hemmed by residences on one side and a forested park on the other, hence the upper-level floor was designed with windows only on one side to avoid the residences and face the lush park. These contrasting directions of the curves don’t just fit the site but also create a harmonious sense of counterpoint that enlivens the design. 

large windows by the end of the tube, architecturalmoleskine-blogspot_


  • NIKKEN SEKKEI LTD. (n.d.). HOKI Museum | Cultural/Sports | Projects. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2022].
  • read0, A. 1 min (2014). Hoki Museum พิพิธภัณฑ์แห่งภาพวาดเหมือนจริง. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2022].
  • ArchitectureWeek. (n.d.). Hoki Museum by Nikken Sekkei. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2022].
  • artscape Japan. (2017). It Gets Real: The Hoki Museum. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2022].
  • Zeballos, C. (2011). MY ARCHITECTURAL MOLESKINE®: HOKI MUSEUM, CHIBA, JAPAN. [online] MY ARCHITECTURAL MOLESKINE®. Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2022]. 
  • ArchDaily. (2012). Hoki Museum / Nikken Sekkei. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Oct. 2022].

Shivangi is headstrong, dedicated to her work and fearless in her aesthetics. An architect, eager to explore and imbibe in the creative process, Shivangi is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow. Backed up with a sense to enquire, she aims to stir up a conversation through her writing.