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Francine Houben

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Francine Houben
Francine Houben, 2015.
Francine Marie Jeanne Houben

(1955-07-02) 2 July 1955 (age 66)
Alma materFaculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology
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, National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts.
Projects1st 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.


The oeuvre of Houben's architecture is 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 on her firm's website, 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."[1] Francine strives to design architecture that appeals "to all the senses"[2] and states that "[architecture] is never a (purely) intellectual, conceptual or a visual consideration alone. Architecture is about combining all of the individual elements into a single concept. In the end, what counts is the arrangement of form and emotion. Architecture should touch all the senses."[2] Houben focuses on designing wholesome buildings that cover a large variety of project programs.

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 in 2013,[3] and the current refurbishment of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.[4] and the New York Public Library Midtown renovation (Mid-Manhattan Library and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building), New York. She has spoken extensively on libraries and public buildings, stating that "libraries are the most important public buildings, like cathedrals were many years ago".[5] She has gained international acclaim for her works, both architecture and written. Her most recent building being the Library of Birmingham (2013), which was one of six buildings shortlisted for the 2014 Stirling Prize awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).[6][7] When Architects' Journal named her as 2014 Woman Architect of the Year, Houben stated: "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."[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] Francine has published books and traveled to numerous universities giving lectures on her studies and practice. Her most recent synopsis is "People, place, purpose, poetry: through these four words Francine Houben illustrates her practice's unique, humanistic approach to architecture."[11]

Selected projects


  • Bruce C. Bolling Municipal BuildingBoston, US
    Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building
    Boston, US
  • Municipal Offices and Train StationDelft, Netherlands
    Municipal Offices and Train Station
    Delft, Netherlands
  • Library of BirminghamBirmingham, UK
    Library of Birmingham
    Birmingham, UK
  • Kaap Skil, Maritime and Beachcombers MuseumOudeschild, Netherlands
    Kaap Skil, Maritime and Beachcombers Museum
    Oudeschild, Netherlands
  • Nelson Mandela ParkAmsterdam-Zuidoost, Netherlands
    Nelson Mandela Park
    Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Netherlands
  • La Llotja Theatre and Conference CentreLleida, Spain
    La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre
    Lleida, Spain
  • FiftyTwoDegreesNijmegen, Netherlands
    Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Montevideo Residential TowerRotterdam, Netherlands
    Montevideo Residential Tower
    Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Chapel Saint Mary of the AngelsRotterdam, Netherlands
    Chapel Saint Mary of the Angels
    Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Delft University of Technology LibraryDelft, Netherlands
    Delft University of Technology Library
    Delft, Netherlands
  • Mekel Park, Delft University of TechnologyDelft, Netherlands
    Mekel Park, Delft University of Technology
    Delft, Netherlands

Selected awards and honours

Other functions


  • 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, Contrast, 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


  1. ^ a b "Francine Houben, Architect/Urbanist". Mecanoo. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  2. ^ a b "Biography of the architect: Francine Houben Mecanoo". (in Italian). Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  3. ^ Birmingham City Council
  4. ^ DC Public Library
  5. ^ Dezeen
  6. ^ McCarthy, Nick (October 16, 2014; updated October 21, 2014). "RIBA Stirling Prize: Library of Birmingham misses out on award". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  7. ^ "RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist 2014". RIBA. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  8. ^ Mark, Laura (February 7, 2014). "Mecanoo's Francine Houben crowned Woman Architect of the Year 2014". Architects' Journal. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  9. ^ Francine M. J. Houben (Baukunst – Mitglieder)" (in German). Akademie der Künste. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  10. ^ "DAFNE". Archived from the original on 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2015-09-12.
  11. ^ UCL (2018-11-22). "Francine Houben – Bartlett International Lecture Series". The Bartlett School of Architecture. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
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Francine Houben
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