Casa Da Música

by | 30. Jul 2012

Cultural | Project

Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


The Casa da Música is situated on a travertine plaza, between the city’s historic quarter and a working-class neighborhood, adjacent to the Rotunda da Boavista.

The square is no longer a mere hinge between the old and the new Porto, but becomes a positive encounter of two different models of the city.


Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


By considering the building as a solid mass, from which we eliminated the two concert halls and all other public facilities, we created a hollowed-out block that reveals its contents without being didactic and, at the same time, exposes the city. The building is both clear and mysterious – the diagram becomes an architectural adventure.

The chiselled sculptural form of the white concrete shell houses the main 1,300 seat concert hall, a small 350 seat hall, rehearsal rooms, and recording studios for the Oporto National Orchestra. A terrace carved out of the sloping roofline and huge cut-out in the concrete skin connects the building to city.


Photo: Charlie Koolhaas



Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


Stairs lead from the ground level plaza to the foyer where a second staircase continues to the Main Hall and the different levels above. Heavy concrete beams criss-cross the huge lightwell above.


Photo: Charlie Koolhaas



Photo: Charlie Koolhaas



Photo: Charlie Koolhaas



Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


The main auditorium, shaped like a simple shoebox, is enclosed at both ends by two layers of “corrugated” glass walls. The glass, corrugated for optimal acoustics and sheer beauty, brings diffused daylight into the auditorium.


Photo: Charlie Koolhaas



Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


During the Design Phase OMA researched new materials and new applications of existing Portuguese materials. The walls in the large hall are lined with plywood panels that are embossed with a gold-leaf pattern that is an enlargement of the grain of the plywood itself. A baroque organ is pinned to the plywood wall.


Photo: Charlie Koolhaas



Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


One room has pale-blue tiles with religious themes, commonly found in Portuguese churches, another is clad in strongly geometric tiles.

The folded glass “curtains” allow for slightly distorted views of the city.


Photo: Charlie Koolhaas


The structural heart of the building is formed by four massive walls that extend from the base to the roof and connect the tilted external walls with the core of the structure. The two one meter thick walls of the main auditorium act as internal diaphragms tying the shell together in the longitudinal direction. The principal materials are white concrete, corrugated glass, travertine, plywood, and aluminium.


Model photo courtesy OMA



Image courtesy OMA



Drawing courtesy OMA Level 1


Drawing courtesy OMA Level 3


Drawing courtesy OMA Level 8


Drawing courtesy OMA East – West Section


Drawing courtesy OMA North – South Section



CITY Porto
COUNTRY Portugal
ARCHITECT Rem Koolhaas
Ellen Van Loon
ANC Architects
Jorge Carvalho