Mecanoo is an architecture firm based in Delft, Netherlands. Mecanoo was founded in 1984 by Francine Houben, Henk Döll, Roelf Steenhuis, Erick van Egeraat and Chris de Weijer.

Mecanoo Architecten
Mecanoo Headquarters in Delft
PartnersFrancine Houben, Dick van Gameren
FoundersFrancine Houben, Henk Döll, Roelf Steenhuis, Erick van Egeraat, Chris de Weijer
Founded1984 (1984)
LocationDelft, Netherlands
Coordinates52°00′48″N 4°21′16″E / 52.013315°N 4.354545°E / 52.013315; 4.354545


Houben, Döll and Steenhuis won a competition to design youth housing at Kruisplein in Rotterdam while they were still students at Delft University of Technology.[1] The project marked a turning point in Dutch social housing which was then mainly oriented towards family units.[2] Together with Van Egeraat and De Weijer, Mecanoo was founded in 1984 in Delft.

The name Mecanoo is a combination of three different words: the British model construction kit Meccano, the neoplasticist magazine Mécano drawn up by Theo van Doesburg and the motto 'Ozoo', adopted by the original founding members for the Kruisplein competition entry which was located in the area of Rotterdam's former zoo.[3]

Office locationEdit

Mecanoo is located on one of the oldest canals of the Netherlands, the Oude Delft, in the historical city centre of Delft. This canal house dating from 1750 was designed by the Italian architect Bollina. The interior has a 40-metre long corridor with a stairwell, ceilings and doors with stucco work and carvings in Louis XIV style. After Oude Delft 203 had been occupied in the nineteenth century by several leading citizens, it was sold in 1886 to the Roman Catholic charity for the poor, later the St. Hippolytus Foundation. Until 1970 it served as lodging for the elderly and later as a hospital. In 1983 Mecanoo rented a part of the canal house and now occupies the entire building.

Mecanoo also has offices in London, New York and Kaohsiung.

Design philosophyEdit

The firm's designs include technical, human and playful aspects. Mecanoo combines the disciplines of architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture in a sometimes unorthodox way and with sensitivity for light. Each project is approached in terms of context and how it relates to the larger urban and social fabric; how it impacts the environment and the beauty of a place.

From the start of the 1990s Mecanoo developed an increasingly clear signature. The three words in the title of Francine Houben’s book: composition, contrast and complexity, sum up the basis of Mecanoo’s architecture but say little about its nature, which in all respects is the complete opposite of cool, abstract and minimalist. Maximalist might be an appropriate neologism for this architecture that is warm and tangible and always offers a rich sensory experience.


Since 1984, Mecanoo has been working progressively on an extensive and various business. In the early years, the work is mainly consist of social housing projects in urban renewal areas. Currently they are focusing on complex, multifunctional buildings and integral urban developments. Project types include houses, schools, campuses, neighbourhoods, theatres, libraries, sky scrapers, parks, squares, highways, cities, hotels, museums and places of worship.

Mecanoo has been grown into a prominent Dutch architecture practice with an international, multidisciplinary staff who are architects, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects and architectural engineers that have completed projects in the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway, Poland, and the United States.

Selected worksEdit

National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts
Delft Municipal Offices and Train Station
Delft University of Technology Library
Three Cultural Centers & One Book Mall
Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building
Montevideo Residential Tower
Namdaemun Tower


  • Houben, F., Vollaard, P., Waaijers, L., Mecanoo architecten, Bibliotheek Technische Universiteit Delft, Rotterdam 1998
  • Houben, F., ‘Ingenieurskunst en mobiliteitsesthetiek’, in: Architectuur en de openbare ruimte, de dynamische delta 2, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management/ Mecanoo architecten, The Hague 1999
  • Houben, F., Maliebaan, een huis om in te werken, Andersson Elffers Felix, Utrecht/ Mecanoo architecten, Delft 2000
  • Houben, F., Composition, Contrast, Complexity, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam 2001 / Birkhaüser, Basel, Boston, Berlin 2001
  • Mecanoo, TU Delft Vastgoed, ING Vastgoed, TU Delft Masterplan, DUP Satellite, Delft 2002
  • Houben, F., Calabrese, L. M. (ed.), Mobility, A Room with a View, Rotterdam 2003
  • Mecanoo, Holland Avenue, Research Road Atlas; Holland Avenue, Design Road Atlas, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management, The Hague 2003
  • Houben F., Luyn S.D.B., Mgr. A.H. van, Adrichem, J. van, Rooy, M. van, En het eeuwige licht verlichte haar, Kapel Heilige Maria der Engelen, Rotterdam 2004
  • Brouwers, R., Betsky, A, Mecanoo, Masters of Architecture Series, Images Publishing Group, Mulgrave, Victoria, Australia, 2008
  • Houben, F., Tromp, J., Cock, H., Dutch Mountains, Uitgeverij de Kunst, Wezep, Nederland, 2011
  • Mecanoo, A People's Palace, The Library of Birmingham, Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin, Germany, 2014
  • Mecanoo, Houben, F. Mecanoo: People, Place, Purpose, Artifice books on architecture, London, United Kingdom, 2015


  • 1999 Mecanoo, Opere e progretti, Pinacoteca Civica, Como
  • 1999 Mecanoo Blue, 4a Bienal Internacional de Arquitectura, São Paulo
  • 2001 Mecanoo architects, Composition, Contrast, Complexity, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam
  • 2002 Next, 8th International Exhibition of Architecture, Venice
  • 2002 Works in progress, GA Gallery, Tokyo
  • 2003 Grattacieli all’Orizzonte/Skyscrapers on the Skyline, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Urban Center of the Municipality of Milan
  • 2003 1st International Architecture Biennal Rotterdam, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam
  • 2006 British Pavilion, 10th International Architecture Biennale, Venice
  • 2007 Dutch Mountains, Casa CASLa, Almere
  • 2007 3rd International Architecture Biennal Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Rotterdam
  • 2007 Dutch Design Expo, International Creative Industry Week, Shanghai
  • 2008 Mecanoo: Dutch Mountains, 101 Building, Taipei
  • 2008 Pavilion A Piece of Banyan, Interni/Green Energy Design, Milano Capitale del Design 2008, Milan
  • 2014 A People’s Palace, Aedes Architecture Forum, Berlin
  • 2015 Mecanoo Photo Exhibition, American Institute of Architects, Washington D.C.
  • 2016 Mecanoo: People, Place, Purpose Theater De Vest/Architectuur Informatiecentrum Alkmaar, Alkmaar
  • 2017 Kaohsiung Station 2023, Kaohsiung, Taiwan


  1. ^ Architecture in Rotterdam
  2. ^ Netherlands Architecture Institute
  3. ^ Mecanoo: Experimental Pragmatism by Pietro Valle

External linksEdit