Queen Máxima of the Netherlands presented the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize to Francine Houben on November 30, 2015. Francine Houben was awarded the prestigious prize for her lifetime achievements as a leading international architect.
The ceremony included speeches by Max Risselada (emeritus professor at Delft University of Technology), Tony Marx (president of the New York Public Library), Alexander Rinnooy Kan (chairman of the board of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds) and Adriana Esmeijer (director of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds). A special performance by Rotterdam-based dance company Conny Janssen Danst united the beauty of Mecanoo’s buildings with modern dance.
In his speech, Tony Marx said to Francine: “You will build us the greatest public library complex the world has ever seen and we know you will do it in budget.”
In her words of thanks, Francine Houben presented the Eye Opener Fund: a patronage started with half of the prize money. The fund will support innovative, creative projects that aim to stimulate the cultural, economic and social importance of libraries. Based on the idea that the missions of the Reading & Writing Foundation, initiated by Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, and the Eye Opener Fund can reinforce each other, the two organisations will closely work together.
At the ceremony, Francine Houben also presented her new book: People Place Purpose. The book describes the specific architecture of Mecanoo, illustrating the way they seek for identity in a global world. A total of seventeen projects, all built in mutually different conditions show the world according to Mecanoo.
Download the full speech in english