It was mainly in their first years that Mecanoo realised a series of social renewal projects in the Rotterdam, such as residential blocks in Bospolder and Tussendijken (1987), the buildings around the Tiendplein (1990), three residential towers in Schiemond (1989) and a residential building on Katendrecht (1989). The most significant project of this period is the Hillekop (1989) on the southbank. During this period, the designs are clearly presented as a collective. In the district Prinsenland (1989-1993) a kind of modern garden city was realised, with much attention to the immediate living environment and public parks.
Since 1991 Francine Houben lives in a, together with her then partner Erick van Egeraat designed house at the Kralingseplaslaan. In Mecanoo’s later work the signature of Houben is clearly recognisable. In Rotterdam, the elegantly styled funeral chapel at the Catholic cemetery in Crooswijk (1998-2001) is a good example of this ‘loose’ design and material use. They realised new housing projects in Terbregge, with parking space located under a raised wooden deck. The residential tower Montevideo (1999-2005) on the Wilhelmina Pier is a vertical city of apartments, housing many facilities.
Francine Houben is a member of various juries and boards, and guest lecturer at several educational institutions. As the first curator of the Rotterdam Architecture Biennale 2003, she introduced the theme ‘mobility’. She serves on the Environmental Quality Board Rotterdam and is a member of the board of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. She received honorary fellowships from the Royal Institute of British Architects, American Institute of Architects and Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. In 2009, Houben received the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award for the professional organization of her business.