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Mecanoo - Delft University of Technology / Library

Delft University of Technology / The TU Delft Library

The TU Delft Library, constructed in 1997, was designed by Delft-based Mecanoo architecture bureau. It is located behind university aula. The roof of the library is covered with grass, which serves as a natural insulation. The structure lifts from the ground on one side allowing to walk to the top of the building. The library is topped by the steel cone, giving its unique shape. The wall, opposite to the Aula is completely filled with glass. The library has won the Dutch National Steel Price in 1998 in the category buildings of steel and hybrid constructions.



Mecanoo is a firm of architects based in Delft, The Netherlands. The Delft based office of Mecanoo was officially founded in 1984 by Francine Houben, Henk Döll, Roelf Steenhuis, Erick van Egeraat and Chris de Weijer. The firm is directed by its original founder architect Prof. ir. Francine M.J. Houben with partners Aart Fransen, Francesco Veenstra, Ellen van der Wal and Paul Ketelaars. 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 place.

The firm name Mecanoo is inspired by the Erector Set ‘Meccano’, a set of metal pieces, nuts, bolts, etc. and tools specially designed for constructing small models of buildings, machines, or other engineering apparatus. It symbolizes the joy to build. The diver logo represents freedom of thinking and optimism. The name Mecanoo is a combination of three different words, the british model construction kit Meccano, the neoplasticist pamphlet mecano drawn up by Theo van Doesburg in 1922 and the motto 'Ozoo', adopted in 1984 by the original founding members of Mecanoo for their competition entry for a housing complex in the area of Rotterdam's former zoo. The competition was entered while they were still students at TU Delft .

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.

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.


TWIL This Week in Libraries  #35: Francine Houben (Mecanoo architects)

Dutch podcast on libraries where the guest is founder and director Francine Houben and she talks about libraries and their future.

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