Francine Houben (Holland 1955) began formulating the three fundamentals of her lifelong architectural vision while studying at the Delft University of Technology. It was in this crucible of higher learning that she began an architectural practice with two fellow students with the design of a groundbreaking social housing development. As a result, she graduated as architect with cum laude honours in 1984 and officially founded Mecanoo architecten with these same partners.
Francine has remained true to her architectural vision, Composition, Contrast, Complexity throughout her career. Always looking for inspiration and the secret of a specific location, Francine bases her work on both analyses and intuition. She enjoys interweaving social, technical, playful and humane aspects together in order to form a unique solution to each situation. Francine Houben combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture in an untraditional way; with sensitivity for light and beauty.
Her use of material is expressive. She is known as one of the most prolific architects in Europe today. Her wide-ranging portfolio comprises an intimate chapel built on the foundations of a former 19th century chapel in Rotterdam (2001) to Europe’s largest library in Birmingham (2013). Francine Houben’s work reveals a sensory aspect determined by form and space, a lavish use or subtle combinations of the most diverse materials, as well as planes of saturated colour. Francine’s contribution to the profession of architecture is widely recognized. She was granted lifelong membership to the Akademie der Künste, Berlin in 2010.
In 2008, she received the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award. Honorary fellowships to the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and an international fellowship to the Royal Institute of British Architects were granted to her in previous years. The past three decades have seen her cumulative effect on the profession of architecture. Francine lectures all over the world and takes part as a jury member in prestigious competitions.
Her commitment to research and education is evidenced in her instatement as professor in Architecture, Chair of Aesthetics of Mobility at the Delft University of Technology (2000), her professorship at the Universitá della Svizzera Italiania, Accademia di architettura, Switzerland (2000) and her appointment as visiting professor at Harvard (2007). Dedication to her alma mater is reflected in generous sponsorship of the UfD-Mecanoo Award for the best graduating student of the Delft University of Technology.
Francine Houben lives in Rotterdam, a modern city where the skyline is dotted with buildings designed by world renowned architects; including her award winning Montevideo Skyscraper (2005). It was in this dynamic city that she directed and curated the First International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2003), with the theme, ‘Mobility, a room with a view’. She has realised numerous signature projects throughout the Netherlands and Europe including Philips Business Innovation Centre, FiftyTwoDegrees in Nijmegen, (2005-2006), La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre in Lleida, Spain (2009) and the Delft University of Technology Library (1999). Currently, she is expanding her architectural vision to other continents with the design of Taiwan’s largest theatre complex, The Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts in Kaohsiung (2014), Dudley Municipal Center in Boston (USA) and Shenzhen Cultural Center (China). In 2011 the book Dutch Mountains was released, a chronicle of Francine Houben and eight special projects in five different countries.
Francine maintains an active presence in academia and culture, regularly publishing and giving lectures worldwide. She has performed in many academic and professional capacities throughout her career, including Chair of Architecture and Aesthetics of Mobility at Delft University of Technology, visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design, and as director of the First International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam.
Francine has received honorary fellowships from the Royal Institute of British Architects, the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. In 2014 Francine was named Woman Architect of the Year by the Architects’ Journal and in November 2015 Queen Máxima of The Netherlands presented Francine with the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize for her wide-ranging career. Francine was awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Université de Mons, Belgium (2017) and the Utrecht University (2016).
“Architecture must appeal to all the senses. Architecture is never a purely intellectual, conceptual, or visual game alone. Architecture is about combining all the individual elements into a single concept. What counts in the end is the arrangement of form and emotion.”
Francine Houben, architect/creative director Mecanoo Architecten.
- A new-generation library. Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library by Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle
- Trip as concept to link past and future. Macau Central Library by mecanoo
- Freedom and passion for reading. Tainan Public Library by Mecanoo and MAYU Architects
- 2040 with the railway as the protagonist. Spoorzone Dordrecht by Mecanoo
- A new neighborhood for all "Amsterdammers". Masterplan Marktkwartier Amsterdam by Mecanoo
- S-shaped better combination of housing and nature. Hulme Living Leaf Street Housing by Mecanoo
- Mecanoo Wing: catalyst and connector in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
- Courtyards and communal identity define Mecanoo's North West Cambridge Development
- Mecanoo Winner of Senezh Management LAB International competition
- The Dutch ‘hoeve’ reinterpreting. Villa Vught by Mecanoo
- Mecanoo completes The Place Taipei Hotel in Taiwan. Strengthening identity
- 1st Prize. Futian Civic Cultural Centre by Mecanoo
- The Grace residential towers by Mecanoo architecten
- Hengli International Headquarters by Mecanoo
- Frankfurt Grand Central by mecanoo
- A new natural park for the city. Nieuw Land by mecanoo
- A building of almost half a kilometer. Longgang Cultural Centre by Mecanoo
- Re-use. From factory to library. Mecanoo completes interior design for LocHal
- Villa on the Lechlade lake by Mecanoo architecten
- The World’s Largest Performing Arts Center by Mecanoo
- Blue Discrict, new Masterplan by Mecanoo
- Masterplan Villa Industria in Hilversum by Mecanoo architecten
- Taichung Green Corridor by Mecanoo
- Mecanoo Architecten completed the Cordoba Palace of Justice
- New headquarters of Eurojust by Mecanoo
- Mecanoo wins Shenzhen North Station Urban Design competition
- Namdaemun Office Building, new tower in Seoul, by Mecanoo
- Taekwang Country Club Cafe by Mecanoo. Coffee with the golf course views
- Embracing the past. St. Gerlach Pavilion & Manor Farm by Mecanoo architecten
- New images for the Renovation project of the Mies van der Rohe´s Library in Washington
- Eden Soestdijk. Landscape as social catalyst
- Renovation and new building for iPabo University of Applied Sciences by Mecanoo
- ID College and ROC Leiden by Mecanoo
- New Ede Wageningen Train Station by Mecanoo
- KRONA Knowledge and Cultural Centre by Mecanoo
- Mecanoo will build its Manchester University campus design
- Villa 4.0, Remodelation of a 1967 bungalow, by Mecanoo
- 10 Architecture Studios Led by Women [II]
- The Dutch Mecanoo replaces Foster+Partners on NY Public Library renovation
- Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building by Mecanoo & Sasaki Associates
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Renovation
- Palace of Justice in Córdoba is under construction by Mecanoo
- Opening Delft's Municipal Offices and Train Station by Mecanoo
- Francine Houben explains the ideas behind the design for the new Delft Station
- Construction begins of Mecanoo’s Cultural Complex
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library by Mecanoo and Martinez+Johnson
- Dutch Profiles: Francine Houben, Mecanoo
- Francine Houben new AJ’s Woman Architect of the Year 2014
- Dudley Square: a Community's Catalyst. By Mecanoo and Sasaki