Houckgeest probably studied under the architect and painter Bartholomeus van Bassen in his native town of The Hague, before moving to Delft in 1635. By 1640 he was back in The Hague, designing tapestries for the assembly hall of the parliament, the States General. His early paintings follow Van Bassen by presenting imaginary palace views and church interiors, but in 1650 Houckgeest made a sudden change from portraying architectural fantasies to actual interiors, particularly of the Nieuwe Kerk and Oude Kerk in Delft. Along with Emanuel de Witte and Hendrick van Vliet, Houckgeest introduced an entirely new way of representing architectural interiors. In 1653, he moved to North Brabant where he became a substantial landowner, and from that time his artistic output virtually ceased.