Francine Houben (1955) is the founder and creative director of Mecanoo architecten. Her work ranges from theatres, museums and libraries to neighbourhoods, housing and parks. She designed the largest library in Europe, located in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Currently, she is working on the renovation of the New York Public Library and the central library of Washington, DC – designed by Mies van der Rohe.
The book People, Place, Purpose (2015), describes Francine Houben’s architecture, illustrated through seventeen Mecanoo project. Each design is founded on observation of people, location, culture and climate. The analysis amounts to designs that respond to current needs, yet which are also prepared for (un)predictable change.
Francine Houben was professor of mobility aesthetics at Delft University of Technology and also taught at Harvard University. She curated the first International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam in 2003 and has been a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin since 2010. In 2015, she was awarded the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize with which she started the Eye Opener Fund, aimed at innovating libraries. Utrecht University granted her an honorary doctorate in 2016.