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Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)- Casa da Música Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 November 2007 19:00

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture - General View

A major concert hall space in Porto, Portugal designed by  Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas  and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture. It is located on a plaza between a historic area of Porto, the Rotunda da Boavista and a newer working-class neighborhood.

As a result of Porto being selected as one of the two cultural capitals of Europe in 2001, the Minister of Culture and the city of Porto founded Porto 2001, an organization which was to initiate and prepare different urban and cultural interventions for the city of Porto. In this context five international architectural practices, amongst which was OMA, were invited to participate in a restricted competition for a new concert hall to be positioned in the historical centre of Porto, the Rotunda da Boavista.


Image courtesy of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

02.jpgCasa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture


OMA were careful in the positioning of the building. This older part of Porto was still a city ‘’intact’’, they chose not to articulate the new concert hall as a segment of a small scale circular wall around the Rotunda da Boavista but to create a solitary building standing on the new, more intimate square connected to the historical park of the Rotunda da Boavista and enclosed by three urban blocks. With this concept, issues of symbolism, visibility and access were resolved in one gesture.

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture
This intervention went beyond the creation of a mere hinge between the old and the new Porto. It becomes a positive encounter of two different models of the city.

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture For the Architects the Acoustics had to be at the core of the concept. As they stated: “This century has seen an architecturally frantic attempt to escape from the tyranny of the notorious ‘’shoe-box’’ shaped concert hall. However, after researching the acoustic quality of existing concert halls we had to conclude together with our acoustic specialist that the best halls in the world have a shoe box shape.”

The challenge was therefore to find ways to innovate with the typological restraints of the Concert Hall.

Most cultural institutions serve only part of a population. A majority knows their exterior shape, only a minority knows what happens inside.

OMA addressed the relationship between the Concert Hall and the public inside as well as outside the building by considering the building as a solid mass from which were eliminated the two shoe-box-shaped concert halls and all other public program creating a hollowed out block. The building reveals its contents to the city without being didactic; at the same time the city is exposed to the public inside in a way that has never happened before.

The ‘’remaining spaces’’ between the exposed public functions consist of secondary serving spaces such as foyers, a restaurant, terraces, technical spaces and vertical transport.

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture A continuous public route connects all public functions and “remaining spaces” located around the Grand Auditorium by means of stairs, platforms and escalators: the building becomes an architectural adventure. The loop creates the possibility to use the building for festivals with simultaneous performances; the House of Music.

The building provides a large amount of rehearsal rooms, soloist rooms and dressing rooms to house the Porto Philharmonic Orchestra and to provide in addition facilities to external and guest performers.

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture
During the Design Phase OMA researched new materials and new applications of existing and Portuguese materials exclusively for Casa da Musica such as; the corrugated glass for the windows of the Auditoria, the used tiles for different rooms and the chairs, canopy and wall finish in the Grand Auditorium.

Casa da Musica is visually and spatially defined by its striking faceted exterior from which its conventional interior spaces have been extracted.  The buildings 400mm thick faceted shell and the two 1m thick walls of the main auditorium are the buildings primary load carrying and stability system. The auditorium walls act as internal diaphragms tying the shell together in the longitudinal direction. Arup and OMA researched the concrete mix for external facades.

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture

Project: Casa da Música
Status: Competition 1999, 1st Prize / Completion spring 2005
Client: Porto 2001 / Casa da Música
Cost: 100 million Euros (figure not for publication)
Location: Porto, Portugal
Site: Rotunda da Boavista
Program: Main Building: 22.000m2, Grand Auditorium 1.300 seats, Small Auditorium 350 seats, 8 Rehearsal Rooms with recording facilities, Music shop, Cyber and Educational facilities, VIP room, Restaurant and Roof Terrace; Parking for 600 cars (27.000m2).

Prize: Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) European Award

OMA – Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan Architecture Partners-in-Charge: Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon
Project Architects: Adrianne Fisher, Michelle Howard
Competition: Rem Koolhaas, Fernando Romero Havaux, Isabel Silva, Barbara Wolff, Uwe Herlijn

Isabel Silva, Uwe Herlijn, 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, Alois Zierl, Olaf Hitz, Jorge Toscano, Duarte Santos, Nelson Carvalho, Stefanie Wandiger, Catarina Canas, Shadi Rahbaran, Chris van Duijn, Maria Baptista, André Cardoso, Paulo Costa, Ana Jacinto, Fabienne Louyot, Nicolas Firket, Christina Beaumont, Anna Little.

Local Architect:
ANC Architects, Jorge Carvalho, Teresa Novais
Ove Arup & Partners – Afassociados

Cecil Balmond, Rory McGowan (Arup) – Rui Furtado, Marco Carvalho (Afa)
Structure: Arup London / AFA Lda, Cecil Balmond, Rory McGowan, Asim Gaba, Toby Maclean, Andrew Minson, Rui Furtado, Rui Oliveira, Pedro Moás, Sérgio Vale, Sara Caetano, Jorge Carneiro, Filipe Ferreira, Diogo Vasconcelos
Services: Arup London / AFA Lda/RGA, Tim Thornton, Stefan Waldhauser, Dane Green, Dorothee Richter, António José Rodrigues Gomes, Joaquim Viseu, Luís Graça, Paulo Silva, Pedro Albuquerque, Isabel Sarmento, Estevão Santana.
Fire Engineering: Arup fire, George Faller

Casa Musica - Office of Metropolitan ArchitectureConsultants
Code Consultancy: OHM/Gerisco
Acoustics: TNO Eindhoven and Dorsser Blesgraaf, Renz van Luxemburg, 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
Facade: Robert Jan van Santen; ARUP facades
Curved Glass Facade: ABT Arnhem (NL), Rob Nijsse
Auditorium Chairs: Maarten van Severen
Loose Furniture Foyers: Daciano da Costa, António Sena da Silva, Leonor Álvares de Oliveira, Fernando Távora

© All material displayed in the Article photos and content are coutesy of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). No reproduction is allowed without their prior consent.
Infringement to this copyright could be subject to procecution.

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