Tomihiro Museum

The International Design Competition for the New Tomihiro Museum of SHI-GA (poems and watercolour paintings) in Azuma Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan

The new museum is a celebration of the life and work of Tomihiro Hoshino, a promising Japanese gymnast who became an artist following a tragic accident at the age of 24. Despite being paralysed from the neck down, he became a prolific artist who paints by means of a brush held between his teeth. He also writes books and poetry.

We responded to this unique and moving story, and to the artists’ love of the natural world, by proposing a building nestled into the hillside on the edge of the forested site. The moment you step into the new museum, Hoshino Tomihiro’s work is seen below you as if in a forest, with dappled light from above, wildflowers outside and the lake in the distance.

The car park is designed to be like an orchard of fruit trees, connected to the museum by a forest track. A funicular takes elderly or disabled visitors to the museum and the roof garden is laid out so that a blind person can safely explore the flowerbeds, while Tomihiro’s poetry can be played over interactive audio headsets.