Francine Houben talks about her influences and the founding of Mecanoo at Dezeen's final lecture as part of Virtual Design Festival's collaboration with Architects, not Architecture. The Architects, not Architecture talks give well-known architects a chance to discuss how they got where they are today. For Houben, it started with a childhood of constant moving around, as her father worked in the Dutch coal industry.
"We were always kind of living on buildings plots because we were moving so often, and for me it was really inspirational," the architect said. "Even experiencing the different landscapes." This has stayed with her, she explained. "I'm now living in Rotterdam and since that's a flat landscape, I call the buildings the Dutch mountains." Houben studied at TU Delft where she met fellow students Henk Döll and Roelf Steenhuis, with whom she won an architecture competition and founded architecture studio Mecanoo in 1984.
Travel played a big part in the life of the architect, who regularly went to the US to visit Charles and Ray Eames after meeting the designers through professor Max Risselada at TU Delft. "For me Charles and Ray Eames were extremely important," she said. "As an attitude, how you enjoy working, how you make compositions. A kind of timeless architecture."
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