People, Place, Purpose

New monograph Francine Houben/Mecanoo

by Francine Houben

Francine Houben, founder and creative director of Dutch architecture practice Mecanoo will release a new monograph next week, entitled: People Place Purpose. People Place Purpose describes the specific architecture of Mecanoo illustrating the way they seek for identity in a global world. From the texture of a local stone, to colours of a fruit tree, or rituals of inhabitants.

A total of seventeen projects, all built in mutually different conditions  show the world according to Mecanoo. The reader is given insight into what drives Francine Houben and her team “in making architecture on strange ground.” 

The book demonstrates the effect that time has had on the purpose (function) of buildings and landscapes, highlighting Mecanoo’s ethos of designing places for people and beginning the process of exploring the urban environment and observing the life which inhabits it. Their ultimate goal is to make buildings that people want to use.

Since 1984 Mecanoo has been committed to creating architecture that contributes to a better world. From an office that started out designing social housing in an era of urban renewal, the practice has developed into an international firm working across the world with projects ranging from the Library of Birmingham, Library Delft University of Technology, the La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre in Lerida, Spain and - most recently - the New York Public Library Midtown Campus.

Mecanoo has over 30 years’ experience in the design of buildings, urban plans, landscapes and interiors, in which the public space always plays a central role. To coincide with the release of People Place Purpose, Her Majesty Queen Máxima of The Netherlands will present to Francine Houben the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize for lifetime achievement on 30 November 2015.

People Place Purpose, Francine Houben
Preface by Herbert Wright
Release: November 2015 (UK)
Hardback; 22 x 17 cm / 6.7 x 8.7 in
400 pages; 730 colour and b/w illustrations
ISBN 978 1 908967 61 9
RRP £34.95 / $49.95

    • Francine Houben


      Delft / Netherlands

      "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 Houben (b. 1955) began to formulate the three fundamental concepts of her architectural vision whilst studying at the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands. Designing primarily for People, constructing spaces that are relevant to Place, and forging connections that give a building Purpose have remained consistent, underlying values to Mecanoo’s practice over the past three decades. Always seeking inspiration in the details of specific sites and locations, 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 combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture in an untraditional way, with a profound sensitivity for light and beauty. Her use of materials, which often contrast in a complementary way, are the sum total of her creative expression.)


    Library of Birmingham

    Birmingham / United Kingdom / 2013


    Library Delft University of Technology

    Delft / Netherlands / 1997


    La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre

    Lleida / Spain / 2010


    Mid-Manhattan Library

    New York / United States / 2019