Casa da Música

October 24, 2005 /

Porto, Portugal

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./OMA

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 1casa_da_musica_17.jpg
Drawing courtesy OMA Level 3casa_da_musica_18.jpg
Drawing courtesy OMA Level 8casa_da_musica_19.jpg
Drawing courtesy OMA East - West Sectioncasa_da_musica_20.jpg
Drawing courtesy OMA North - South Section

Facts about Casa da Música

Main building area:

22.000 m2
Carpark: 27.000 m2


OMA Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon

Local Architect:
ANC Architects/Jorge Carvalho

Structural Engineer:
Ove Arup & Partners/Cecil Balmond

TNO / Renz van Luxemburg


Porto 2001/Casa da Música

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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