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Published: Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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Casa Da Musica

"This century has seen an architecturally frantic attempt to escape from the tyranny of the notorious "shoe-box" shaped concert hall", says OMA. Their recently completed "Casa Da Musica" addresses this claim in an innovative way.

By: OMA

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
South facade

Project Details

  • Project Name: Casa da Musica
  • Status: Competition 1999, 1st Prize.
  • Client: Porto 2001 / Casa da Musica
  • 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.
  • Carpark 27.000m2 for 600 cars.

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
North facade

The Building

"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.

This left us with the following points to consider:

  • Where to innovate in a case of a traditional typology like 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." says, OMA.

So when OMA won the restricted competition for a new concert hall to be positioned in the historical centre of Porto, Portugal - "the Rotunda da Boavista"; they 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.

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
North view

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.

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
South foyer (left); Public entrance (right)

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
View of the auditorium space in use.

A continuous public route connects all public functions and "remaining spaces" located around the Grand Auditorium by means of stairs, platforms and escalators. The loop creates the possibility to use the building for festivals with simultaneous performances.

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
Large auditorium

The Structure

'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.

Architecture-Page | Casa Da Musica by OMA
Aerial view of 'Rotunda da Boavista' and 'Casa da Musica'

The Context

As part of urban and cultural interventions for the city of Porto, a new concert hall was to be positioned in the historical centre of Porto, the 'Rotunda da Boavista'. Since this part of Porto was still a city "intact", OMA 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. Through continuity and contrast, the park on the 'Rotunda da Boavista' is no longer a mere hinge between the old and the new Porto, but it becomes a positive encounter of two different models of the city.

Credits

  • Text: Courtesy, the architect
  • Photos (1, 2 and 5) by Nicolas Firket (AMO), Courtesy of Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  • Photos (3, 4, 6 and 7) by Charlie Koolhaas, Courtesy of Office for Metropolitan Architecture
  • Compiled and edited by Varun M. Ajani

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