Dutch design practice Mecanoo has released a new documentary exploring the modernization of Washington DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr central library. Called "A Legacy of Mies and King", the documentary explores both architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's vision in the sixties, as well as the recent effort to create a modern library that reflects a focus on people while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture.
Francine Houben: The Latest Architecture and News
Rem Koolhaas, Dutch architect and founder of the Rotterdam-based firm OMA, has been announced as the closing keynote speaker at the World Architecture Festival. The event will take place in Amsterdam at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre on from 28-30 November.
For the last eight years, Moscow has hosted the Moscow Urban Forum, a yearly gathering for experts to reunite to discuss pressing issues of today’s metropolises. Some of the most renowned architects and urbanists, city mayors, government officials, economists, developers, academics, citizens and professionals from diverse fields and nationalities come together in the iconic Russian city and its important venues like Menage or VDNKh. But it was the presence of two of the world’s most influential men in their respective areas of influence which marked the importance of this year Moscow Urban Forum: Rem Koolhaas and Vladimir Putin.
The event is part of a long-term, comprehensive urban process in which a series of coordinated projects have changed the face of Moscow, putting it on par with other European capitals. Ahead of the 2018 World Cup, many of these projects reached completion, making this edition of the Moscow Urban Forum a special one. The Garden Ring, the Krymskaya Embankment, the renovated Luzhniki Stadium, the Gorky Park renovation, the Garage Museum, the My Street Program, the Moscow Central Circle, and the Velobike Public Bike System, among many other initiatives, show the commitment of the city to improving the quality of its public spaces. Upcoming projects such as the new Hermitage Museum by Asymptote, the V-A-C Foundation in Red October by Renzo Piano, the Moskva River Embankment by Project Meganom, and the renovation of the Tretyakov Gallery by OMA show that this responsibility extends beyond the World Cup.
Caroline Bos, David Adjaye, Li Xiaodong and Many Others to Speak at 2018 World Architecture Festival
After two years in Berlin, the World Architecture Festival will move their 2018 edition to Amsterdam for three days of talks, design presentations, and award ceremonies featuring cutting-edge contemporary works and some of the most prominent figures in architecture today.
Francine Houben on Washington D.C.'s Central Library, A Balancing Act Between Mies and Martin Luther King Jr.
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.
9 years ago today, ArchDaily launched with a challenging mission: to provide inspiration, knowledge and tools to the architects tasked with designing for the 3 billion people that will move into cities in the next 40 years. Over these 9 years, as we have developed innovative approaches to help architects tackle the urban challenges facing our world, our work has brought us into contact with some of the most creative and respected architects in the world. To help us celebrate our 9th birthday, we asked 9 architects who are renowned for their creative and imaginative abilities to create drawings inspired by our logo, to show the world what ArchDaily means to them.
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.
From Vitruvius to Le Corbusier, words and writing have always played an essential role in architectural discourse. One could argue that crafting words is akin to orchestrating space: indeed, history’s most notable architects and designers are often remembered for their written philosophies as much as they are for their built works.
With the exception of a few of architecture’s biggest names, the majority of practicing architects no longer exploit the inherent value writing offers as a means for spatial and theoretical communication. This trend is exacerbated by the fact that many architectural schools place little emphasis on the once-primary subjects of history and literature, resulting in a generation of architects who struggle to articulate their ideas in words, resulting in an ever-growing proliferation of ill-defined “archispeak.”
LOBBY is an attempt from students of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture to reclaim the potency of the written word, presenting in their second issue an ambitious array of in-house research and external contributions. The theme is Clairvoyance, and the journal seeks to investigate the ways in which architects are forced to constantly grapple with the possibilities and uncertainties of designing spaces that exist in the intangible realm of the world-to-be.
Six years after the original announcement of the project, the first phase of Mecanoo's new Train Station and City Hall complex in Delft, The Netherlands, has been opened to the public. Within the new station hall an undulating 'vault', which has been designed to evoke an "unforgettable arrival experience", features a scaled 1877 map of the Dutch city rendered in blue and white. Columns wrapped in a mosaic of Delft-blue titles, also reminiscent of the colours of Delftware, one of the city's most famous global exports. The station platforms below ground have been designed by Benthem Crouwel, the Dutch practice behind Rotterdam Centraal Station.
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.
In response to the honor, Francine Houben stated:“I feel privileged to be a woman, to be a mother and to bean 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...
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 construction 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: