Francine Houben

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Francine Houben
Mecanoo Francine Houben FC IMG 5753 CV.jpg
Francine Houben in 2015
Born Francine Marie Jeanne Houben
(1955-07-02) 2 July 1955 (age 61)
Sittard, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Alma mater Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology
Occupation Architect
Practice Mecanoo

Library of Birmingham
Delft University of Technology Library
Revitalisation Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Delft Railway Station and Municipal Offices

La Llotja de Lleida
Projects 1st Edition International Architecture Biennal Rotterdam

Francine Marie Jeanne Houben (Dutch pronunciation: [frɑnˈsɪnə maːˈrɪ ˈʒɑnə ˈɦʌubən]; born 2 July 1955)[1] is a Dutch architect. She graduated with cum laude honours from the Delft University of Technology. She is the founding partner and creative director of Mecanoo architecten, based in Delft, The Netherlands, with offices in Manchester, United Kingdom, Washington, D.C., United States and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.[2]


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. 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."[3] 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.[4] When named as the Architects' Journal 2014 Woman Architect 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."[5]

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),[6] and the current refurbishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.[7] She has spoken extensively on libraries and public buildings, stating that "libraries are the most important public buildings, like cathedrals were many years ago".[8]

Francine Houben has held 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 aesthetics of mobility to the forefront of international design consciousness. In 2010 Francine Houben was granted lifelong membership to the Akademie der Künste, Architecture Department, in Berlin.[9] In November 2015 Queen Máxima of the Netherlands presented the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize to Houben for her oeuvre.[10]

Selected projects[edit]


Selected awards and honours[edit]

Other functions[edit]


  • People Place Purpose, Francine Houben. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2015 ISBN 9781908967619
  • Dutch Mountains, Francine Houben, Jan Tromp, Harry Cock. Wezep: Uitgeverij de Kunst, 2011 ISBN 9789491196003
  • Masters of Architecture Series, Mecanoo, Ruud Brouwer, Aaron Betsky, Francine Houben. Mulgrave, Vic.: Images Publishing Group, 2008 ISBN 9781864701425
  • En het eeuwige licht verlichte haar, Kapel Heilige Maria der Engelen, Francine Houben, Mgr. A.H. van Luyn S.D.B., Jan van Adrichem, Max van Rooy. Rotterdam, 2004
  • Mobility, A Room with a View, Francine Houben, Louisa Maria Calabrese (ed.). Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2003 ISBN 9789056622572
  • Composition, Contrast, Complexity, Francine Houben. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhaüser, 2001 ISBN 9783764364526 translated from Dutch Compositie, Contrats, Complexiteit, Francine Houben. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2001 ISBN 9056621904
  • Maliebaan, een huis om in te werken, Francine Houben. Utrecht: Andersson Elffers Felix/Delft: Mecanoo architecten, 2000 ISBN 9090139001
  • Ingenieurskunst en mobiliteitsesthetiek, Francine Houben in: Architectuur en de openbare ruimte, de dynamische delta 2, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management/Mecanoo architecten. The Hague, 1999
  • Bibliotheek Technische Universiteit Delft, Leo Waaijers, Piet Vollaart, Francine Houben. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 1998 ISBN 9064503354


External links[edit]