Finding identity in a globalised world

Finding identity in a globalised world

About us

Mecanoo, officially founded in Delft in 1984, is made up of a highly multidisciplinary staff of creative professionals from 25 countries. The team includes architects, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects as well as architectural technicians and support staff.

Mecanoo is led by Creative Director/Founding Partner, Francine Houben and Design and Research Director/Partner Dick van Gameren. 

Mecanoo has extensive experience designing and realising exceptional buildings which serve client ambitions while creating vibrant end-user spaces. Each project responds to our philosophy of People, Place and Purpose: to the client’s requirements and the user’s needs (People); the physical context, climate and culture (Place); and the current and predicted potential of a building’s function (Purpose).

The result is unique solutions for each varying situation, in which the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, landscape and interior combine in a non-traditional way. Over the years we have learned that functions inevitably change. Therefore, we must create buildings that are prepared for (un)predictable change.

Sustainability is an inherent aspect of our design approach, feeding into an ambition to create new identity in a world of globalization, resulting in inspiring and authentic places, socially relevant for people and communities.

Preoccupied not by a focus on form, but on process, consultation, context, urban scale and integrated sustainable design strategies, the practice creates culturally significant buildings with a human touch.

The world is in flux — swept up in climate change, ceaseless urbanisation, the digitisation of systems, knowledge and life, and global shifts in power, population and wealth.

We believe that our architecture can contribute to a better world, and we are passionate about solving complex challenges to create inspiring places for people.

Francine Houben
Creative Director/Founding Partner

Mecanoo was founded in 1984 by Francine Houben, Henk Döll, Roelf Steenhuis, Erick van Egeraat and Chris de Weijer. Since then Roelf (1989), Erick (1995), Chris (1999) and Henk (2003) have established their own practices.

Francine has since led the firm to success in The Netherlands and abroad, amassing a portfolio of work that is wide-ranging, inspired by global challenges and with a sustainable view on society.

"Architecture must appeal to all the senses. Architecture is never a purely intellectual, conceptual, or visual game alone. Architecture is about combining all the individual elements into a single concept. What counts in the end is the arrangement of form and emotion."

Francine bases her work on precise analysis coupled with an intuition built over three decades. She interweaves social, technical, playful and human aspects of space-making together in order to create a unique solution to each architectural challenge.

Francine Houben sees the team as a vibrant international ‘symphony orchestra’. Approaching a project with a versatile multidisciplinary team creates the opportunity to develop new ideas and integral concepts with everyone present at the table.

People, Place, Purpose

People Place Purpose describes the specific architecture that Mecanoo explores, illustrating the way they seek for identity in a globalised world. From the texture of a local stone, to colours of a fruit tree or rituals of inhabitants, Mecanoo is driven to design buildings with strength to earth. A total of seventeen projects, all built in mutually different conditions, show the world according to Mecanoo.

Language: English
Publisher: Artifice, London 2015. 
ISBN 978-1-908967-61-9

Dutch Mountains

Dutch Mountains is more than a book about architecture.

It's about beautiful buildings, all over the world, Dutch designed. It's about a woman who has remained herself in the wonderful and challenging world of international architecture. It's about the unparalleled success of the still idealistically motivated architects, Delft-based architects, Mecanoo.

Journalist Jan Tromp and photographer Harry Cock capture the world of Francine Houben in eight special projects in five different countries.

Language: English/Dutch/Chinese. 
Publisher: Uitgeverij de Kunst. ISBN 9789491196003 
Download Book PDF

Composition, Contrast, Complexity

In the book 'Composition, Contrast, Complexity'  Francine Houben presents a personal account of her experiences.

Text and image convey her original and authentic attitude, views and feelings about architecture. She has made a selection from her many Mecanoo projects for this publication. Each of these projects is exemplary of her vision and illustrates the three core elements of how she conceives architecture: composition, contrast and complexity.

Houben, Francine/Mecanoo Architecten, Composition, Contrast, Complexity, Publ. Birkhaüser, Basel/Boston/Berlin 2001, 260 pages.
ISBN 3-7643-6452-1 Order here

Mecanoo Master Series

In the spring of 2008 the latest monograph about Mecanoo was published.
The book demonstrates through word and image a cross section of Mecanoo architecten's broad oeuvre.

Mecanoo's projects show a passion for landscapes, a pleasure in technology and an undogmatic approach of each assignment.

Text: Ruud Brouwers, Aaron Betsky. Design: Via Vermeulen/ b+w and colour illustrations/ hardback/ 272 pages / 300x223 mm

Language: English/Dutch. Publisher: The Images Publishing Group, Australia.
ISBN 9781864701425 Order here

Francine Houben: "What's most important is the senses"

Francine Houben on why the human condition should be central to the future of design

Madame Architect: Francine Houben on Urban Renewal, Simple Values, Being Visionary

Letters from Lockdown: The future is about ‘forward to basics’.

Francine Houben about the coronavirus "We have to design walkable and bikeable cities"

Mevr. de Architect: "In het buitenland vinden ze me vaak 'fearless'" 

Architects, not Architecture: Francine Houben at Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival 

The Library Whisperer

AD Interviews: Francine Houben

Interview with Francine Houben CLAD MAG

Blueprint innovation: Francine Houben

"Libraries are the most important public buildings"