In the tenth episode of GSAPP Conversations, Jorge Otero-Pailos (Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP) speaks with Francine Houben, founder and creative director of the Dutch practice Mecanoo. Recorded before the school's annual Paul S. Byard Memorial Lecture, their conversation centers on her practice's work to renovate and redevelop the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C., Mies van der Rohe's last building and only library project.
Francine Houben on Washington D.C.'s Central Library, A Balancing Act Between Mies and Martin Luther King Jr.
Mecanoo and MAYU Architects+ have begun construction on the new Tainan Public Library in Taiwan. The joint proposal was selected as a winner of a competition by the Tainan City Government held in February 2016. The proposal’s program hosting people of all ages, combined with its distinctive stepped façade will serve as a key addition to Tainan's cultural landscape. The design has gone through revisions with updated drawings released by Mecanoo.
Construction Begins on Project to Transform Railway Hangar into a Mixed-Use Library in The Netherlands
Construction has begun on the LocHal, a new mixed-use complex in Tillburg, The Netherlands. Designed by CIVIC Architects (a submember of The Cloud Collective) in collobaration with Braaksma & Roos architecten, Arup and Inside Outside, the project will be located in a former Dutch Railways hangar and maintenance facility, serving as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the city’s 75 hectare railway district. Opening up the area to the public, LocHal will offer visitors a large public hall and plaza, work spaces, conference areas, galleries, a library, a music hall and restaurant.
Placing third place out of 69 entries in an international competition for a new cultural building in Shenzhen, China, Mecanoo’s proposal for the Bao’an Public Culture and Art Center aiming to re-evaluate the “inwardly focused identity of cultural facilities in Hong Kong," through the form of an elevated cube. Situated near the Bao’an Metro Station and the Binhai School, the Dutch firm responds to the site’s challenges by reconnecting the center with its adjacent infrastructure.
The metro station and cultural center are united by the large masses of people that are channeled by the former and engaged but the latter. In order to capitalize on this condition, the design combines the metro entrance with that of the museum, thereby connecting the wider community with the arts and creating a more appealing public network.
Dutch firm Mecanoo has partnered with furniture manufacturer Gispen to create a new collection of modular and customizable furniture geared specifically towards creating variable working and learning environments. HUBB has been designed to adapt to a range of working requirements and scenarios, seamlessly accommodating different collaborative activities and individual work preferences.
CBack in 2006, the team of Mecanoo and Ayesa placed first in an international competition with its winning proposal for a perforated courthouse in Córdoba, combining the area’s historical character with a modern twist. Now, after almost a decade, the Palace of Justice is set for completion later this year, having broken ground in 2015.
Inspired by Córdoba’s Moorish origins, the design balances a contemporary concrete mass with traditional exterior courtyard spaces; a reflection of the plan of the old city. These are faced by colored ceramic tiles, which break the façade’s uniformity.
The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) has announced announced Mecanoo and Sasaki as the winners of the 2016 Harleston Parker Medal for their design of the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building. Awarded each year by the BSA and the City of Boston, the prestigious award honors “the single most beautiful” building or structure built in the metropolitan Boston area over the past 10 years.
The District of Columbia Public Library authority has unveiled a fly-through video tour of the final design for the renovation and intervention of its main downtown branch, the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library. According to the architects, Mecanoo and D.C.-based Martinez+Johnson Architecture, it shows "a modern library that reflects a focus on people, while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture." Slated for reopening in 2020, the designs will add 9,300 square feet of additional space for the public, including a rooftop event space and a landscaped terrace.
Mecanoo has unveiled its design to transform The Soestdijk Estate into Eden Soestdijk, “an experimental garden for a sustainable society and a paradise destination for all” in The Netherlands. In an effort to become an educational tool for environmental awareness, the project aims to make a significant contribution to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“The world is facing pressure from increasingly larger and more complex problems when it comes to water, food, climate and energy,” said Anton Valk, chairman of the Eden Soestdijk foundation. “Eden Soestdijk wants to tackle these problems and contribute to a more sustainable society by stimulating and inspiring visitors to change their behaviour in a positive way.”
An architectural greenhouse behind the palace gardens will be the centerpiece of the project, and will house an interactive exhibition focusing on topics like circularity, ecological balance, and social aspects of sustainability.
The New York Public Library has revealed the first renderings of Mecanoo and Beyer Blinder Belle’s renovation of the NYPL’s Mid-Manhattan Library at the corner of 5th Avenue and 40th Street, diagonally across from the library’s main branch, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Bryant Park. The $200 million project will increase seats, expand services and add public space to the building, which receives 1.7 million annual visits and constitutes the NYPL’s largest circulating branch.
“New Yorkers will soon have the central circulating library that they need and deserve,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “This library will transform lives by providing books, classes, and programs for New Yorkers of all ages, and it will transform our city – as it will be a model for how libraries can strengthen communities.”
Mecanoo has unveiled the designs for the new Ede Wageningen Train Station in the city of Ede in the Netherlands, after winning the competition for the design of the project in 2014. As a gateway to the Veluwe National Park, the transport hub is designed to support future expansion in response to growth in passenger numbers.
Inspired by the local Veluwe landscape—its topography, typologies, and existing buildings and monuments—the Station building is nestled in the slopes of the moraine between the Veluwe Massif and the Gelderse Valley.
The wooden clock tower and roof of the project serve as the station’s hallmark. Consisting of a series of wooden triangles, the roof cascades over the bicycle parking, retail space, and other station facilities, ending as the overhang of the main entrance and connecting all quadrants of the hub in a uniform manner.
The project, which will occupy an 8.5-hectare site, will act as a green connector unifying different modes of transportation and represent Kaohsiung’s vision for its future as a sustainable city.
The University of Manchester’s Mecanoo-designed engineering campus has received planning permission from the Manchester City Council, greenlighting the £350 million project. The Manchester Engineering Campus Development is part of the University’s campus masterplan, meant to bring together a multidisciplinary engineering and scientific community and to consolidate the University’s campus around Oxford Road. The project is one of the largest single construction projects ever undertaken by an institution of higher education in the United Kingdom. MEC Hall, the main building of Mecanoo’s development, is 195 meters long.
Mecanoo has unveiled plans for the Namdaemun Office Building in Seoul. The tower takes its name from the Namdaemun Market, the oldest and largest market in South Korea, which is next to the ancient southern gate of the city. Opened as a government managed marketplace in 1414, the market is now an important 24-hour destination for trade and tourism. The slim 14-story, 5,900 square meter (65,000 square foot) building rests on a corner opposite the commercial activities of the market.
A new cultural center designed by Mecanoo, located in the Longgang district of Shenzhen, China is currently under construction and is set to top out by end-April. With the goal of revitalizing an existing park-square, the new complex includes a variety of programs such as a bookshop, an art museum, a youth center, and a science center. The nearly 100,000 square-meter building is set to open to the public in 2018.
New York City's Van Alen Institute have announced four new members—Haptic Architects, Mecanoo, Studio Libeskind, and Trahan Architects—to their International Council, a platform for exchange among leading architects, designers, developers, and planners. Furthermore, Jing Liu (SO–IL), Kim Herforth Nielsen (3XN), and Raymond Quinn (Arup) have joined its board of trustees to help guide the organisation's cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and design competitions.
In "People, Place, Purpose," the latest monograph of her Delft-based firm Mecanoo, Francine Houben explores the unique work which has enabled the firm to take their place among the world-renowned pantheon of Dutch architects. In the following excerpt from the book, Herbert Wright presents an introduction to the monograph and the themes running through Mecanoo's work in general, breaking down an architecture that is defined not by style or ego but by three overarching responsibilities - and perhaps a dash of color.
On a computer screen, architects can move virtual walls around with just a few clicks, but surely only superheroes can shift an actual wall around physically with their bare hands? So it was quite a surprise, while standing in the Saint Mary of the Angels Chapel in Rotterdam, to see Francine Houben, founding partner of Mecanoo, do precisely that. After some gentle fussing and tidying around the lectern and candles where the priest conducts ceremonies, she walks to a wall, and puts her hands firmly to it. It recedes to let in the sound of tree branches swaying in the wind passing through the cemetery outside.
Tradition and Modernity Come Together in Mecanoo and HS Architects’ Proposal for the Longhua Art Museum and Library
Mecanoo has released their proposal for the Longhua Art Museum and Library, designed in collaboration with HS Architects. The proposal was a finalist for a competition to design a new cultural center in Baoan Qu, a district of Shenzhen, China. Their design recalls the necessity of returning to the Chinese cultural context after years of foreign designs, blending modernity with place and purpose. Read more about the proposal after the break.