Day 85/365 of Steel – Francine Houben

Francine Houben! (born 2 July 1955)

Francine is architect-director and one of the founders of Mecanoo architects in Delft. She belongs to the Dutch architecture movement Superdutch. Mecanoo has grown into a firm with world fame. The list of projects is immense, but I will pick out two here. One ‘local’ project, Villa Industria in Hilversum, and one international: the National Center for the Arts in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (2018).

National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts

National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts
Fig 1: National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts
Photo © Iwan Baan

Inspired by the local Banyan trees with their iconic crowns, the vast, undulating structure is composed of a skin and roof, and connects an extensive range of functions. The curved steel structure was built in cooperation between a local and a Dutch shipbuilder. Underneath this roof is Banyan Plaza, a generous, sheltered public space. Residents can wander through here day and night, practice Tai Chi or stage street performances along walkways and in informal spaces. An open-air theatre nestles on the roof where the structure curves to the ground, with the surrounding park forming the stage.

Inside The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts
Fig 2: Inside The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts
Photo © Shawn Liu Studio
Construction Site
Fig 3: 2013 – Construction Site
Photo © Christian Richters

Villa Industria Silo’s

Villa Industria
Fig 4: Villa Industria
Courtesy of Mecanoo

The Gasholders are robust masonry towers of 8, 10 and 12 layers high. They are surrounded by a steel frame that carries the balconies. The steel frame creates 3 cylindrical residential buildings, and refers to the old gasometers which once stood on the site. The steel structure consists of round steel tubular profiles, which are arranged in a circular pattern around the square apartment buildings. An additional advantage of this steel construction is that it provides the flats with enormous balconies. As a result, the flats were sold very quickly!

Villa Industria
Fig 5: Villa Industria
Courtesy of Mecanoo

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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