“With her architectural firm Mecanoo, Dutch architect Francine Houben (62) is responsible for many incredible constructions around the world. We join Houben on a trip to Taiwan and visit one of her latest creations.”
“Based on the key principle ‘People, Place, Purpose’, Houben always puts the users of her constructions first. Who will be occupying the space and what do they need? It seems quite logical, but it’s this humane approach that has earned Houben praise throughout her career. “I’ve always liked to dive into the local culture, habits and needs of people. Some architects have a specific style that they apply wherever they go and that’s immediately recognisable.
Mecanoo’s work is above all defined by its focus on blending in with the surroundings and its users.” We notice this as we take the high-speed rail from Taipei to Taiwan’s second-biggest city, port town Kaohsiung, the next day and visit her latest masterpiece, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts. In 2007, Mecanoo joined 44 international contenders in a pitch to transform part of the former military base at the Wei-Wu-Ying Metropolitan Park into a national performing arts centre.
With Mecanoo’s design idea to create a half-open, undulating structure with organic shapes that mirror its natural surroundings and offer a sheltered public space that can be used by people day and night, Houben won the jury over. Since then, she’s been coming to Taiwan on a frequent basis to oversee this enormous project, due to open in October of this year.”
Extract Holland Herald magazine, Art & Design May Issue.
Hit The Road: Architect Francine Houben On A Mission In Taiwan.
Text Marieke Verhoeven
Photography Roger Neve