BNA Kubus awarded to Francine Houben
The 42nd BNA Kubus – oeuvre award since 1965 – was awarded on November 1 to Francine Houben, Founding Partner/Creative Director at Mecanoo. In The New Farm in The Hague, the BNA Kubus was awarded by Hedy d’Ancona, founder of the national architecture policy (Nationaal Architectuurbeleid). If anyone deserves this oeuvre award, it is Francine Houben, says d’Ancona: “What special qualities do you need to be recognized as one of the few female architects at the top of contemporary architecture? I think of everything that she shares with her male colleagues. In addition: that exceptional ability to see through the eyes of the future users of the living and working spaces that she realizes.”
A body of work of unprecedented breadth
Chaired by Joost Ector, the jury emphasized Houben’s versatility in the report: “We, the jury, and many colleagues, see Francine Houben as the grande dame of Dutch architecture. We want to underline this status by awarding her the BNA Kubus. Her list of completed projects is not only extensive but what is most striking is the unprecedented breadth of her work: from stage design to large city districts, from inner-city redevelopments to the largest library in Birmingham; and, most recently, the impressive National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Taiwan and the prestigious renovations of the New York Public Library and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington.”
During his speech, architect Hubert-Jan Henket focused on the elements that Houben’s small and large projects have in common: “Your strength to give ordinary things an unusual experience. They are all spatial poems.” Followed by: “Architects such as Rietveld, Duiker, Aalto, Eames and Lina Bo-Bardi were able to elevate the modernist ideals – to make a better world for everyone – beyond the purely functional, becoming something lasting. These are the architects who give direction to sustainable architecture; and it is alongside this select group of poetic Modernists, Francine, that you stand.”
About the BNA Kubus
The BNA Kubus is awarded every two years to an architect who excels both professionally and conceptually in craftsmanship, who contributes to the development of the architectural profession and of architecture, and who has built up a recognizable and innovative body of work.
Mecanoo’s well-known projects include the Nieuw Terbregge neighbourhood, the Library of Birmingham, Delft Central Station, the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum (Dutch Open Air Museum) in Arnhem, Eurojust in The Hague and the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston. The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts will soon be opened in the Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and major renovations of the New York Public Library and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington are currently underway.
Image copyright Roland J. Reinders.