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Mecanoo Headquarters in Delft
Practice information
PartnersFrancine Houben, Dick van Gameren
LocationDelft, Netherlands
Coordinates52.013315, 4.354545
Significant works and honors
BuildingsLibrary of Birmingham, Delft University of Technology Library, Revitalisation Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Amsterdam University College, Delft Railway Station and Municipal Offices, HOME Arts Centre, La Llotja de Lleida, Montevideo Residential Tower, Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts, Palace of Justice in Córdoba, Namdaemun Tower in Seoul.

Mecanoo is an architecture firm based in Delft, Netherlands. Mecanoo was founded in 1984 by Francine Houben, Henk Döll, Roelf Steenhuis, Erick van Egeraat and Chris de Weijer.


Houben, Döll and Steenhuis won a competition to design youth housing at Kruisplein in Rotterdam while they were still students at Delft University of Technology.[1] The project marked a turning point in Dutch social housing which was then mainly oriented towards family units.[2] Together with Van Egeraat and De Weijer, Mecanoo was founded in 1984 in Delft.

The name Mecanoo is a combination of three different words: the British model construction kit Meccano, the neoplasticist magazine Mécano drawn up by Theo van Doesburg and the motto 'Ozoo', adopted by the original founding members for the Kruisplein competition entry which was located in the area of Rotterdam's former zoo.[3]

Office location[edit]

Mecanoo is located on one of the oldest canals of the Netherlands, the Oude Delft, in the historical city centre of Delft. This canal house dating from 1750 was designed by the Italian architect Bollina. The interior has a 40-metre long corridor with a stairwell, ceilings and doors with stucco work and carvings in Louis XIV style. After Oude Delft 203 had been occupied in the nineteenth century by several leading citizens, it was sold in 1886 to the Roman Catholic charity for the poor, later the St. Hippolytus Foundation. Until 1970 it served as lodging for the elderly and later as a hospital. In 1983 Mecanoo rented a part of the canal house and now occupies the entire building.

Mecanoo also has offices in London, New York and Kaohsiung.

Design philosophy[edit]

The firm's designs include technical, human and playful aspects. Mecanoo combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture in a sometimes unorthodox way and with sensitivity for light. Each project is approached in terms of context and how it relates to the larger urban and social fabric; how it impacts the environment and the beauty of a place.

From the start of the 1990s Mecanoo developed an increasingly clear signature. The three words in the title of Francine Houben’s book: composition, contrast and complexity, sum up the basis of Mecanoo’s architecture but say little about its nature, which in all respects is the complete opposite of cool, abstract and minimalist. Maximalist might be an appropriate neologism for this architecture that is warm and tangible and always offers a rich sensory experience.


Since 1984, Mecanoo has been working progressively on an extensive and various business. In the early years, the work is mainly consist of social housing projects in urban renewal areas. Currently they are focusing on complex, multifunctional buildings and integral urban developments. Project types include houses, schools, campuses, neighbourhoods, theatres, libraries, sky scrapers, parks, squares, highways, cities, hotels, museums and places of worship.

Mecanoo has been grown into a prominent Dutch architecture practice with an international, multidisciplinary staff who are architects, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects and architectural engineers that have completed projects in the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, Poland, and the United States.

Selected works[edit]

National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts
Delft Municipal Offices and Train Station
Delft University of Technology Library
Three Cultural Centers & One Book Mall
Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building
Montevideo Residential Tower
Namdaemun Tower

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1987 City of Rotterdam Rotterdam Maaskant Prize for Young Architects
  • 1996 Ministry of Education, Culture and Science Best School Building Prize 1996 for Isala College, Silvolde, Netherlands
  • 1998 National Steel Construction Prize 1998 for the Library Delft University of Technology
  • 2001 City of Rotterdam Building Quality Award 2000 for residential area Nieuw Terbregge, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • 2001 ‘TECU’ Architecture Award 2000 for the National Open Air Museum
  • 2001 A.M. Schreuders Prize 2001 for best underground building for Office Villa Maliebaan, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2003 Dutch Building Prize 2003 for the National Open Air Museum
  • 2006 City of Rotterdam Building Quality Prize 2006 for Montevideo
  • 2006 National Steel Construction Prize 2006 for Montevideo
  • 2006 International Prize Dedalo Minosse 2005/2006 for Montevideo
  • 2006 International Highrise Award 2006 for Montevideo
  • 2007 Brick Award for Swimming Pool and Sports Centre Het Marnix in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2008 International Prize Dedalo Minosse 2007/2008 Special Prize for Sustainability for FiftyTwoDegrees
  • 2010 Green GOOD Design Award for Municipal Offices and Train Station Delft
  • 2013 Amsterdam Architecture Prize 2013 (Golden A.A.P.) for Amsterdam University College
  • 2013 Architects’ Journal Building of the Year 2013 for Library of Birmingham
  • 2014 RIBA West Midlands Building of the Year 2014 for Library of Birmingham
  • 2014 RIBA National Award 2014 for Library of Birmingham
  • 2014 Stirling Prize nomination 2014 for Library of Birmingham
  • 2015 Civic Trust Awards Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design for Library of Birmingham
  • 2015 International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Award for Most Innovative Use of Masonry for Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, Boston, United States
  • 2016 Architectural Review MIPIM Future Projects Award for Three Cultural Centers & One Book Mall, Shenzhen, China
  • 2016 RIBA National Award 2016 for HOME, Manchester
  • 2016 Architizer A+ Award for Delft Railway Station, Delft, Netherlands
  • 2017 Digital prize at Idea-Tops Awards for National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts Wei Wu Ying, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
  • 2017 Architizer A+Award, jury prize and the popular vote in the category Contract Furniture for HUBB – Learning Environments, the Netherlands.
  • 2017 Red Dot Award Product Design for HUBB – Learning Environments, the Netherlands.
  • 2017 Civic Trust Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design for HOME Arts Centre, United Kingdom.
  • 2017 Harleston Parker Medal for Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, USA.
  • 2018 Honor Award for Design Excellence at BSA Design Awards for Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, Boston, USA.
  • 2018 Architizer A+Award, Popular choice in the category Government & Municipal Buildings for Palace of Justice, Córdoba, Spain.
  • 2018 MIPIM/Architectural Review, Future Project Award 2018 Commendation, Big Urban Projects for Kaohsiung Station, Taiwan.
  • 2018 Frame Awards People’s Vote, Healthcare Centre of the Year for Zaans Medical Centre, Zaandam, the Netherlands.
  • 2018 Transportation Concept Award at the RTF Sustainability Awards 2017 for Kaohsiung Station, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
  • 2018 Best Meeting Location of the Year at the Meetings Award 2017 for St. Gerlach Pavilion & Manor Farm, Valkenburg Aan De Geul, the Netherlands.


  • Houben, F., Vollaard, P., Waaijers, L., Mecanoo architecten, Bibliotheek Technische Universiteit Delft, Rotterdam 1998
  • 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
  • Houben, F., Maliebaan, een huis om in te werken, Andersson Elffers Felix, Utrecht/ Mecanoo architecten, Delft 2000
  • Houben, F., Composition, Contrast, Complexity, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam 2001 / Birkhaüser, Basel, Boston, Berlin 2001
  • Mecanoo architecten, TU Delft Vastgoed, ING Vastgoed, TU Delft Masterplan, DUP Satellite, Delft 2002
  • Houben, F., Calabrese, L. M. (ed.), Mobility, A Room with a View, Rotterdam 2003
  • Mecanoo architecten, Holland Avenue, Research Road Atlas; Holland Avenue, Design Road Atlas, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management, The Hague 2003
  • Houben F., Luyn S.D.B., Mgr. A.H. van, Adrichem, J. van, Rooy, M. van, En het eeuwige licht verlichte haar, Kapel Heilige Maria der Engelen, Rotterdam 2004
  • Brouwers, R., Betsky, A, Mecanoo, Masters of Architecture Series, Images Publishing Group, Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia, 2008
  • Houben, F., Tromp, J., Cock, H., Dutch Mountains, Uitgeverij de Kunst, Wezep, Nederland, 2011
  • Mecanoo architecten, A People's Palace, The Library of Birmingham, Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin, Germany, 2014
  • Mecanoo architecten, Houben, F. Mecanoo: People, Place, Purpose, Artifice books on architecture, London, United Kingdom, 2015


  • 1999 Mecanoo, Opere e progretti, Pinacoteca Civica, Como
  • 1999 Mecanoo Blue, 4a Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura, São Paulo
  • 2001 Mecanoo architects, Composition, Contrast, Complexity, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam
  • 2002 Next, 8th International Exhibition of Architecture, Venice
  • 2002 Works in progress, GA Gallery, Tokyo
  • 2003 Grattacieli all’Orizzonte/Skyscrapers on the Skyline, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Urban Center of the Municipality of Milan
  • 2003 1st International Architecture Biennal Rotterdam, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam
  • 2006 British Pavilion, 10th International Architecture Biennale, Venice
  • 2007 Dutch Mountains, Casa CASLa, Almere
  • 2007 3rd International Architecture Biennal Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Rotterdam
  • 2007 Dutch Design Expo, International Creative Industry Week, Shanghai
  • 2008 Mecanoo: Dutch Mountains, 101 Building, Taipei
  • 2008 Pavilion A Piece of Banyan, Interni/Green Energy Design, Milano Capitale del Design 2008, Milan
  • 2014 A People’s Palace, Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin
  • 2015 Mecanoo Photo Exhibition, American Institute of Architects, Washington D.C.
  • 2016 Mecanoo: People, Place, Purpose Theater De Vest/Architectuur Informatiecentrum Alkmaar, Alkmaar
  • 2017 Kaohsiung Station 2023, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


  1. ^ Architecture in Rotterdam
  2. ^ Netherlands Architecture Institute
  3. ^ Mecanoo: Experimental Pragmatism by Pietro Valle

External links[edit]