Mecanoo was established by architect Francine Houben in Delft in 1984 and currently employs 120 architects, designers and town and country planners from 25 different countries.

The projects

The company’s international projects range from single-family houses to public buildings and tower blocks through to estates and urban planning concepts. The projects also include outstanding examples of the application of pavers in landscape architecture such as for the Library of Birmingham, the Mekel Park at the campus of Delft University of Technology, the Dutch Open Air Museum in Arnhem, and the master plan for the NOMA Project at Angel Square in Manchester.

Paul Ketelaars, architect and partner at Mecanoo, about design principles

How do you evaluate the importance of building materials in landscape architecture?
A well-designed public space should present textural diversity, transitions between soft and hard surfaces and attention to detail. The choice of material is intrinsic to the design. The right material quality, which is selected to suit the expected use and intended atmosphere, is fundamental to a project‘s ultimate success. A variety in texture and colour helps to define the use of different areas.
 
What are the design principles Mecanoo applies for the public space so that it is accepted and liked by the users?
In the work of Mecanoo, architecture, interior design, engineering, landscaping and town planning come together. Our designs are all based on the same attitude: people, place, purpose. We observe people in different cities, in different climates and from different cultures. We are searching to create identity in a world of globalisation, especially when designing public buildings and public space.
 
From your experience, what is the percentage of clay pavers in your landscape designs?
We choose pavers depending on the context in the respective project. Thanks to the natural qualities of clay, the Netherlands has a long history using the material. This tradition is clearly viewable in our streetscape. On the other hand, we rarely use brick in our projects in Asia, since these counties don’t have a strong tradition of using brick and it doesn’t fit the local
setting. For our NOMA project in Manchester, we combined pavers with Yorkstone, a sandstone from Yorkshire. The contrast in colour and texture between these two paving materials works really well in this project. Here, the colour of the clay pavers matches the steel construction of the building, creating a warm atmosphere.
 
Please describe a few design possibilities with clay pavers that you like to use in your projects.
The wide variety in colour, surface texture and size make pavers incredibly versatile. Being a product of nature generally means that no one stone is the same, allowing for a multitude of subtle nuances in colour and shape. Furthermore, the use of clay pavers is cost-efficient, sustainable and creates a high-quality appearance that ages beautifully. Many different atmospheres can be created using different types of pavers and various laying patterns, ranging from a rustic look to a modern industrial appearance.

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