Mecanoo Begins Work on Vast Cultural Centre in Shenzhen

Courtesy of Mecanoo / Christopher Malheiros Architectural Visualization

Dutch based practice Mecanoo, nominated for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize for the Library of Birmingham, have begun work on vast cultural centre in Shenzhen marking their first project to break ground on Chinese soil. Comprising of a large public art gallery, a science museum, a youth centre, and a book mall, the 95,000 square metre development will strengthen Longgang District’s identity by “providing citizens and visitors with a renewed sense of place.” Forming a dynamic link between the high-rise of the city’s commercial district and the open spaces of Longcheng Park, the four sculpted forms emerge from the ground to create a series of arches and sheltered spaces to facilitate public events.

See the full set of images and an illustrative film after the break.

World Photo Day: Christian Richters by Francine Houben

Library of Birmingham / Mecanoo. Image ©

In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Francine Houben of Mecanoo writes on behalf of Christian Richters. 

Critical Round-Up: The 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist

Though O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Building for the LSE is not the bookie’s favourite, many critics feel it is most deserving of the Stirling Prize. Image © Dennis Gilbert

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has now announced the six projects that form this year’s Stirling Prize Shortlist, the award that is the ultimate prize for any British building. As the ’s most publicly prominent award, the Stirling Prize is often a prime demonstration of the tension between architecture that is widely appreciated by the general populace, and that which is lauded by architectural critics and practitioners.

This year is no exception, with perhaps the country’s highest-profile project in years – the Shard - just part of the controversy. What did the critics make of the RIBA’s selection? Find out after the break.

RIBA Announces 2014 Stirling Prize Shortlist

The RIBA has announced the six projects that will compete for the 2014 Stirling Prize, the award for the building that has made the greatest contribution to British architecture in the past year. The six nominees will now be judged head to head for British architecture’s highest honour, based on “their design excellence and their significance in the evolution of architecture and the built environment,” with a winner announced on October 16th. See the full shortlist after the break.

Rabobank Westelijke Mijnstreek Advice Centre / Mecanoo

© Christian Richters

Architects: Mecanoo
Location: Sittard, The
Area: 5,375 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Christian Richters,

How Will Architecture Respond to a “Boom” in UK University Spending?

Courtesy of University of Manchester

With the recent news that Dutch practice Mecanoo, along with Penoyre & Prasad, have been selected for a £200 million new engineering campus at the University of ManchesterAmanda Baillieu of BDOnline argues that they ”need to set their ambitions a whole lot higher.” Alongside’s Manchester’s announcement, universities in Sheffield, Newcastle and Oxford also recently announced a big investment in their campuses. The trick, Baillieu suggests, will be in ensuring the architecture is not “safe and office-like” (which fits universities’ “business-like” mindset). As we enter a “golden age” in university capital investment, architecture will be playing a central role. Read the article in full here.

Mecanoo Selected for New Manchester University Building

The University’s existing Technology building, located at Sackville Street. Image © Flickr CC User Pete Birkinshaw

Mecanoo has been selected to design the new Engineering campus at the University of Manchester. At a value of £200 million, the project will be the largest ever completed by the Dutch Practice in the UK - slightly larger than the popular Library of Birmingham which they completed last year – and will involve both new build elements and a renovation of the University’s Grade-II Listed Oddfellows Hall. The new technology building is part of a larger £1 billion overhaul which the university aims to complete by 2020. You can find out more details at the Architects’ Journal.

VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

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Our friends at Mecanoo have shared a fascinating mini-documentary exploring the complex brickwork on display in their latest project in ’s Dudley Square, the Dudley Municipal Center(nearing completion). Called “Boston Bricks with a Dutch Touch,” this documentary features interviews with everyone involved in the project – from workers to architects – and focuses on the difficulty of using brick in this elaborate manner. Enjoy the video above and check out some fantastic images after the break.

Francine Houben Named AJ’s Woman Architect of the Year 2014

Architects’ Journal has just announced that ’s Francine Houben has been chosen from an impressive shortlist of women architects as the winner of the Women in Architecture Awards.

In response to the honor, Francine Houben stated:“I feel privileged to be a woman, to be a mother and to be an architect, which was not always an easy combination. [...] I strongly believe that architecture is about teamwork, about being visionary and supportive at the same time. Women are especially good at that.”

More on Francine Houben, after the break…

AD Interviews: Francine Houben / Mecanoo

Francine Houben (@FrancineHouben on Twitter) is one of the founders and the current Creative Director of acclaimed Dutch firm Mecanoo.

The firm was founded in 1984 after Francine and a group of fellow students at the Delft University of Technology won a competition for a social housing complex. Since then the firm has developed a unique language with a special focus on the expression of materials, a strong relation with context, technical expertise, and the precise resolution of details, as can be seen in the TU Delft Library, the La Llotja Theatre and Congress Centre, the Montevideo Building, and the recently opened Birmingham Library, currently the largest library in Europe.

The firm’s logo, a falling diver ”represents a free spirit and unlimited creativity” according to @Mecanoo__.

In this interview Francine explains the challenges of designing a library, a program currently undergoing quick and constant evolution, and shares her experience running the practice.

Currently, the firm is directed by Francine and technical director Aart Fransen,  joined by partners Francesco Veenstra (watch Mies.UK interview), Ellen van der Wal, Paul Ketelaars and Dick van Gameren. Mecanoo has projects under all around the world, including the Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts in Kaohsiung (Taiwan, see watch construction video), the Dudley Municipal Center in Boston (USA) and the Shenzhen Cultural Center (China). 

Projects by Mecanoo at ArchDaily:

Mecanoo’s Francesco Veenstra on “Sustainability as Social Responsibility”

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, one of six partners at the Dutch practice Mecanoo and Lead Architect on a number of major projects in the United Kingdom, recently spoke to Mies. UK about the practice’s approach to design and their unique take on sustainability. Having recently completed a major public building in Birmingham (which was put to the vote and won the AJ’s 2013 Building of the Year), and with more in the pipeline, the practice’s international outlook is growing. How has the practice’s design methodology and core ideas influenced this success? Read more after the break.

Mecanoo Wins Competition to Design Subterranean Museum in Warsaw

Entrance 2. Image Courtesy of

A team consisting of Mecanoo, , Delva Landscape Architects and Jojko Nawrocki Architekci has won a competition to design the Royal Lazienki Museum in Poland’s capital. The 1,800 square meter museum will be buried beneath a triangular, 2.5 hectare “Garden of the 21st Century” in Lazienki Park, one of Warsaw’s most popular cultural destinations.  Michael van Gessel and Delva Landscape Architects will focus on the garden, while Mecanoo leads the museum’s design.

Video: Mecanoo’s TU Delft Library

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The TU Library, in The Netherlands, helped to place Mecanoo in the international scene. The library was designed 15 years ago, and to celebrate, released this great video revisiting the now iconic building. Enjoy!

Ten Firms Shortlisted to Renovate Mies’ MLK Jr. Memorial Library in D.C.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial / Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Image © Flickr user Elvert Barnes

In August, we reported a Request for Qualifications for the renovation of Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C. - Mies’ only library and the only building in D.C. A few days ago, the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) narrowed down the list of potential firms from 26 to 10 and revealed that it was looking for community input on the library’s future spaces and services.

The ten firms that made the cut are:

Dutch Mountains: People, Place, Purpose

Courtesy of Mecanoo

of Mecanoo will present Dutch Mountains: People, Place, Purpose, a lecture on the design of the new Dudley Square Municipal Office Facility, as part of the Fall 2013 Student Lecture Series on September 25, 2013 in Cascieri Hall.

Francine Houben directs her Mecanoo team with the ambition to design buildings with a strong respect for context; physical, historical and environmental. In her lecture Dutch Mountains: People, place, purpose, she presents her vision and philosophy as well as the participatory planning and design process that is fundamental to her work. Houben guides you through Mecanoo’s increasingly international portfolio, which features the recently opened Library of Birmingham integrated with the REP Theatre in the , as well as the Wei-Wu-Ying Centre for the Arts in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and the Dudley Municipal Offices in Boston – both currently under construction.

All three projects serve as catalysts for their respective cities and neighborhoods; however, Boston’s Dudley Square Municipal Center serves as a unique North American example of the reinvigoration of a community. With a long history of participatory planning and community engagement, Francine worked with Sasaki Associates, Boston’s Property & Construction Management, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, along with neighborhood efforts, to produce a building that binds this community together. This lecture will present key moments in the process which lead to design solutions.

More on the lecture, including a short documentary on the project after the break.

Critics React to Mecanoo’s Birmingham Library

© Christian Richters

With ’s new public library opening last week, ’s latest large-scale public building has received mixed reviews from critics in the UK. Check out the critical responses from Hugh Pearman, The Telegraph‘s Stephen Bayley, The Guardian‘s Oliver Wainwright, The Observer‘s Rowan Moore, and The Financial Times‘ Edwin Heathcote after the break…

Residential St. Josephhof / Mecanoo

© Christian Richters

Architects: Mecanoo
Location: Sint Josephhof, 6511 , The Netherlands
Area: 8,000 sqm
Year: 2008
Photographs: Christian Richters

Library of Birmingham / Mecanoo

© Christian Richters

Architects: Mecanoo
Location: 309 Broad Street, Birmingham, West Midlands,
Client: Birmingham City Council
Area: 35,000 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Christian Richters