Francine Houben is one of the Netherlands’ leading architects who, with her practice Mecanoo Architecten, has sought to create buildings that ‘touch all the senses.’ Her architecture encompasses ‘emotional, social, playful and humane aspects’ as well as intellectual, conceptual and visual ones. From ground breaking housing projects in her early years, she has gone on to design signature projects including the Philips Business Innovation Centre, FiftyTwoDegrees in Nijmegen, La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre in Lleida, Spain, and Europe’s largest library building in Birmingham, UK. Houben lectures widely on issues surrounding urban design and from 2002 to 2006 put these into practice as City Architect for Almere in the Netherlands.
In this programme recorded in partnership with RIBA, Francine Houben talks to Razia Iqbal about how second cities around the world can find a new shape, why it’s not just buildings which matter and her focus on transport patterns and the way people use public space, her passionate belief that libraries matter, why decoration on buildings may be unfashionable but she defends it and how she has juggled being a mother and running a practice.
Photo ©: Marco van Rijt