Extract from Mecanoo and Martinez+Johnson presentation for the MLK Library renovation design, 15.02.2014.
Founding partner of Mecanoo, Francine Houben, has won this year’s Woman Architect of the Year Award.
The Dutch architect picked up the prestigious award at a ceremony held at London’s Langham Hotel today (7 February).
© Architect’s Journal
Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts; Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Kaohsiung is one of the world’s larges sea harbours with five million people living in the region. A high speed train line connects the city with Taiwan’s capital, Taipei. The harbour city of Kaohsiung wants to change into a multifaceted city with a state-of-the-art service industry and a rich cultural life.
As a result, a new metro system is to come online in 2009 and in the Wei-Wu-Ying Metropolitan Park, a former military compound of 65 ha., a grand complex for concerts, opera and theatre is being realised. The programme consists of a concert hall with 2000 seats, an opera house with 2250 seats, a theatre hall with 1250 seats and a Recital Hall with 500 seats.
An international competition was organised for the design of the park and the performing arts center. There is hardly any misunderstanding with regard to the ambitions of this project; the park and the arts complex must, with one gesture, give Kaohsiung another face.
An international jury chose the design of Mecanoo because of its great imagination, one-ness of the arts center with the park, modern theatre techniques and incorporation of the subtropical climate.
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 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).