SANAA's Kazuyo Sejima designs mirrored museum dedicated to legendary Japanese printmaker

The life and art of the famous Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai is celebrated in a new Tokyo museum, design by SANAA’s Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kazuyo Sejima.

The Sumida Hokusai Museum, located in the ward of the same name, is the sculptural home for over 18,000 works created by Hokusai and his apprentices over 200 years ago, including the artist’s most famous work – ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa'.

Sejima was tasked with creating both a landmark to attract tourists and a community-centred building that finally gives the citizens of Sumida an opportunity to learn about Hokusai and appreciate his art in one purpose-built place.

To achieve this she has designed a striking five-storey angular building partly divided by gentle slits, one of which creates a public pathway through the museum.

Aluminium panels lining the exterior have a mirrored quality that reflects the changing scenes of the surrounding downtown area, capturing local life in the manner of one of Hokusai’s woodblock ukiyo-e folk tale prints.

The reflections also allow the museum blend in with the local park. This integration, and a design that creates multiple entrances to avoid the sense of the building having a front and a back, is intended to encourage passers-by into the building.

The splits in the facade, which include sloping glass windows, allow people on the outside of the museum to look in, while offering those inside views of the Tokyo skyline. They also serve to allow daylight inside the building, and complement the angular walkways and openings that feature throughout the interiors.

The museum’s directors believe the museum will boost the profile of Hokusai further. As well as the exhibition galleries, the facility also includes lecture halls, workshops, a library and research centre; all dedicated to preserving and expanding on the artist’s legacy.

SANAA  Kazuyo Sejima  Katsushika Hokusai  The Great Wave Off Kanagawa  Tokyo  Japan  architecture  design 
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The life and art of the famous Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai is celebrated in a new Tokyo museum, design by SANAA’s Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kazuyo Sejima. The Sumida Hokusai Museum, located in the ward of the same name, is the sculptural home for over 18,000 works created by Hokusai and his apprentices over 200 years ago, including the artist’s most famous work – ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa'.
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Aluminium panels lining the exterior have a mirrored quality that reflects the changing scenes of the surrounding downtown area / Sumida Hokusai Museum
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