Francine Houben

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Francine Houben (born in Sittard, 1955)[1] is a leading Dutch architect. She is the founding partner and creative director of Mecanoo architecten b.v., based in Delft, The Netherlands, with offices in Manchester, The United Kingdom, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.


The oeuvre of Houben's architecture is extremely wide-ranging and includes projects such as universities, libraries, theatres, residential areas, museums and hotels. Houben combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture to form a unique solution to each situational challenge. According to her biography, she "bases her work on precise analysis coupled with an intuition built over three decades [by interweaving] social, technical, playful and human aspects of space-making together in order to create a unique solution to each architectural challenge."[2] She has gained international acclaim for her works, most recently with the Library of Birmingham which has been shortlisted for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize.[3] When named as the Architects' Journal 2014 Woman of the Year, Houben stated that "It was a great privilege to design the Library of Birmingham. Architecture is about teamwork, about being supportive and visionary at the same time. Women are especially good at that."[4]

Her practice is particularly known for the design of libraries. The library at the Delft University of Technology, completed in 1997, led to the Library of Birmingham (2013), and the current refurbishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.. She has spoken extensively on libraries and public buildings.[5]

Francine Houben has held important professorships in the Netherlands and abroad, and in 2007 was visiting professor at Harvard University. From 2002 to 2006 she was City Architect of Almere. In 2001 she published her seminal manifesto about architecture: 'Composition, Contrast, Complexity' and brought as curator of the First International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam in 2003, the theme of the mobility of aesthetics to the forefront of international design consciousness. In 2010 Francine Houben was granted lifelong membership to the Akademie der Künste, Architecture Department, in Berlin.

Selected Projects[edit]


Other Functions[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

  • 2011 Houben, F., Tromp, J., Cock, H., Dutch Mountains, Wezep 2011
  • 2008 Brouwer, R., Betsky, A, Houben, F. Mecanoo, Francine Houben, Masters of Architecture Series, Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia 2008
  • 2007 Valle, P., Mecanoo: Experimental Pragmatism, Skira International Corporation, Milan, Italy
  • 2004 Houben, F., Mgr. A.H. van Luyn S.D.B., Adrichem, J. van, Rooy, M. van, En het eeuwige licht verlichte haar, Kapel Heilige Maria der Engelen, Rotterdam 2004
  • 2003 Houben, F., L. M. Calabrese (ed.), Mobility, A Room with a View, Rotterdam 2003
  • 2003 Bilò, F., Mecanoo, Rome 2003
  • 2003 Mecanoo architecten, 'Holland Avenue, Research Road Atlas; Holland Avenue, Design Road Atlas, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management, The Hague 2003
  • 2002 Mecanoo architecten, TU Delft Vastgoed, ING Vastgoed, TU Delft Masterplan, DUP Satellite, Delft 2002
  • 2001 Houben, F., Composition, Contrast, Complexity, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam 2001 / Birkhaüser, Basel, Boston, Berlin 2001
  • 2000 Houben, F., Maliebaan, een huis om in te werken, Andersson Elffers Felix, Utrecht/ Mecanoo architecten, Delft 2000
  • 1999 Houben, F., 'Ingenieurskunst en mobiliteitsesthetiek', in: Architectuur en de openbare ruimte, de dynamische delta 2, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management/ Mecanoo architecten, The Hague 1999
  • 1998 Houben, F., Vollaard, P., Waaijers, L., Mecanoo architecten, Bibliotheek Technische Universiteit Delft, Rotterdam 1998
  • 1994 Rood, L., Prat, N.T., Mecanoo architekten, Madrid 1994
  • 1987 Cusveller, R. (ed.), Mecanoo, vijfentwintig werken, Rotterdam 1987


External links[edit]