Concert hall for the city of Porto
The past thirty years have seen frantic attempts by architects to escape the domination of the "shoe-box" concert hall. Rather than struggle with the inescapable acoustic superiority of this traditional shape, the Casa da Musica attempts to reinvigorate the traditional concert hall in another way: by redefining the relationship between the hallowed interior and the general public outside. The Casa da Musica, the new home of the National Orchestra of Porto, stands on a new public square in the historic Rotunda da Boavista. It has a distinctive faceted form, made of white concrete, which remains solid and believable in an age of too many icons. Inside, the elevated 1,300-seat (shoe box-shaped) Grand Auditorium has corrugated glass facades at either end that open the hall to the city and offer Porto itself as a dramatic backdrop for performances. Casa da Musica reveals its contents without being didactic; at the same time, it casts the city in a new light.
Locating the Casa da Musica was key in the development of OMA's thinking; we chose not to build the new concert hall in the ring of old buildings defining the Rotunda but to create a solitary building standing on a travertine-paved plateau in front of the Rotunda's park, neighbouring a working class area. With this concept, issues of symbolism, visibility, and access were resolved in one gesture.

As well as the Grand Auditorium, conceived as a simple mass hollowed out end-to-end from the solid form of the building, the Casa da Musica also contains a smaller, more flexible performance space with no fixed seating, ten rehearsal rooms, recording studios, an educational area, a restaurant, terrace, bars, a VIP room, administration areas, and an underground car park for 600 vehicles.

Innovative use of materials and colour throughout was another imperative: as well as the unique curtain-like glass walls at either end of the Grand Auditorium, the walls are clad in plywood with enlarged wood patterns embossed in gold, giving a dramatic jolt in perspective; the VIP area has hand-painted tiles picturing a traditional pastoral scene, while the roof terrace is patterned with geometric black and white tiles; floors in public areas are sometimes paved in aluminium.

There is deliberately no large central foyer; instead, a continuous public route connects the spaces around the Grand Auditorium by means of stairs, platforms and escalators. The building becomes an architectural adventure.
Competition: 1999
Completed: 2005

Porto 2001 / Casa da Música

Rotunda da Boavista

22,000 m2 including grand auditorium with 1,200 seats, small auditorium with space for 350 seats, rehearsal rooms with recording facilities, music shop, computer and educational facilities, VIP room, restaurant, roof terrace and parking (600 cars)

Partners in charge:
Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon

Adrianne Fisher, Michelle Howard, Isabel Silva, Nuno Rosado, Robert Choeff, Barbara Wolff, Stephan Griek, Govert Gerritsen, Saskia Simon, Thomas Duda, Christian von der Muelde, Rita Amado, Philip Koenen, Peter Müller, Krystian Keck, Eduarda Lima, Christoff Scholl, Alex de Jong, Catarina Canas, Shadi Rahbaran, Chris van Duijn, Anna Little, Alois Baptista, André Cardoso, Paulo Costa, Ana Jacinto, Fabienne Louyot, Christina Beaumont, João Prates Ruivo

Competition Team:
Rem Koolhaas, Fernando Romero Havaux, Isabel Silva, Barbara Wolff, Uwe Herlyn

Local Architect:
ANC Architects, Jorge Carvalho

Structure: Arup / AFA Lda
Cecil Balmond, Rory McGowan, Asim Gaba, Toby Maclean, Andrew Minson, Rui Furtado, Rui Oliveira, Pedro Moas

Services: Arup / AFA Lda/RGA
Tim Thornton, Stefan Waldhauser, Dane Green, Rodrigues Gomes, Joaquim Viseu, Luís Graça, Paulo Silva, Marco Carvalho, Pedro Albuqüerque

Fire engineering: Arup Fire
George Faller

Code Consultancy:
OHM /Gerisco

Acoustics: TNO Eindhoven / DHV
Renz van Luxembourg, Theo Raijmakers

Interiors, Curtains: Inside Outside
Petra Blaisse, Peter Niessen, Marieke van den Heuvel, Mathias Lehner

Scenography: dUCKS scéno
Michel Cova, Stephan Abromeit, Aldo de Sousa

Robert Jan van Santen, Rob Nijsse (ABT), Arup Facades

Auditorium chairs:
Maarten van Severen, Loose Furniture Foyers: Daciano da Costa, António Sena da Silva, Leonor Álveres de Oliveira

Royal Institute of British Architects European Award, 2007

The Architects' Journal, 7 April 2005
Building Design
, 8 April 2005
New York Times
, 10 April 2005
The Observer, 10 April 2005
Le Monde, 22 April 2005
Financial Times, 27 April 2005
The Times, 4 June 2005

Villas & Golfe #7, 01/2003
Contemporary Architecture #48, 03/2003
Archined, 03/04/2003
Agenda do Porto #17, 06/2003
Uhmepbep #2/73, 2003
A+U #398, 11/2003
Casabella #721, 04/2004
Kenchiku Bunka #671, 06/2004
Newsweek, 25/04/2005
Financial Times, 27/04/2005
Bauwelt #21, 27/05/2005
AIT #5, 05/2005
GA Document #84, 05/2005
de Architect #6, 06/2005
Detail #6, 06/2005
The Times, 04/06/2005
A+ #194, 06/2005
Techniques & Architecture #478, 06/2005
Baumeister #B6, 05/2005
Domus #881, 05/2005
Bellevue #7, 07/2005
Yapi #284, 07/2005
Archinews, 29/06/2005
Archistorm #14, 07/2005
Art Press #314, 07/2005
A+U #419, 08/2005
Archistorm #14, 08/2005
Monument #68, 08/2005
A+U #419, 08/2005
A&W Architektur & Wohnen #4, 09/2005
Arcspace, 24/10/2005
Archiworld, 2005
Architectural Digest, 2005
AMC Le Moniteur Architecture 2006 [Bois]
Architectural Digest #11, 10/2006
Opus C, 09/2006
Time and Architecture, 07/2006

"A building whose intellectual ardor is matched by its sensual beauty."
Nicolai Ouroussoff, New York Times. Full article.

Avenida da Boavista, 604-610
4149-071 Porto, Portugal
Virtual tour: VRMAG