Francine Houben (1955) is one of the founders and the creative director of Mecanoo architects in Delft, Holland. She began formulating the three fundamentals of her lifelong architectural vision, Composition, Contrast and Complexity, while studying at the Delft University of Technology where she graduated as architect with cum laude honors in 1984.
Always looking for inspiration and the secret of a specific location, Houben bases her work on both analyses and intuition. She enjoys interweaving social, technical, playful and humane aspects together in order to form a unique solution to each situation. Houben combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture in an untraditional way; with sensitivity for light and beauty. Her use of material is expressive. She is known as one of the most prolific architects in Europe today. Her wide-ranging portfolio comprises an intimate chapel built on the foundations of a former 19th century chapel in Rotterdam (2001) to Europe’s largest library in Birmingham (2013).
Francine Houben’s contribution to the profession of architecture is widely recognized. She was granted lifelong membership to the Akademie der Künste, Berlin in 2010. In 2008, she received the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award. Fellowships to the American Institute of Architects, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and the Royal Institute of British Architects were granted to her in previous years. The past three decades have seen her cumulative effect on the profession of architecture. Francine lectures all over the world and takes part as a jury member in prestigious competitions. Her commitment to research and education is evidenced in her instatement as professor in Architecture, Chair of Aesthetics of Mobility at the Delft University of Technology (2000), her professorship at the Universitá della Svizzera Italiania, Accademia di architettura, Switzerland (2000) and her appointment as visiting professor at Harvard (2007).
Francine Houben lives in Rotterdam, a modern city where the skyline is dotted with buildings designed by world renowned architects including Houben’s own award winning Montevideo Skyscraper (2005). It was here that she directed and curated the first International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2003), with the theme Mobility, a Room with a View. She has realized numerous signature projects throughout the Netherlands and Europe including Philips Business Innovation Centre, FiftyTwoDegrees in Nijmegen, (2005-2006), La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre in Lleida, Spain (2009) and the Delft University of Technology Library (1999). Currently, she is expanding her architectural vision to other continents with the design of Taiwan’s largest theatre complex, The Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts in Kaohsiung (2014), Dudley Municipal Center in Boston (USA) and Shenzhen Cultural Center (China). In 2011 the book Dutch Mountains was released, a chronicle of Francine Houben and eight special projects in five different countries.