Casa da Música

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Casa da Música
Casa Da Musica (3190746009).jpg
The distinct polygon of the Casa da Música concert hall
General information
LocationCedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau e Vitória
Country Portugal
Coordinates41°9′31″N 8°37′51″W / 41.15861°N 8.63083°W / 41.15861; -8.63083Coordinates: 41°9′31″N 8°37′51″W / 41.15861°N 8.63083°W / 41.15861; -8.63083
OwnerCâmara Municipal do Porto
Technical details
MaterialJordian marble
Design and construction
ArchitectRem Koolhaas

The Casa da Música (literally the House of Music) is a Portuguese concert hall in civil parish of Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau e Vitória, in the municipality of Porto, in northern Portugal. It houses the cultural institution Fundação Casa da Música, and three orchestras: Orquestra Nacional do Porto (Porto National Orchestra), Orquestra Barroca (Baroque Orchestra) and Remix Ensemble.


A view of the location along the Avenida da Boavista and neighbourhood of the same name
Casa da Música on opening day (14 April 2005)

On 1 September 1998, the Ministro da Cultura (Ministry of Culture) announced the construction of Casa da Música, during the ambit of Porto's 2001 presence as the European Capital of Culture.[1]

The building engineers were AFA Arup Group Limited (London) together with Afassociados (Porto).[1] It was designed by Dutch architect was Rem Koolhaas, in association with the Porto Office of Metropolitan Architecture, the scene agency Ducks scéno, the acoustician Renz Van Luxemburg and AFA, while the interiors were designed by Inside Outside (Petra Blaisse), that included the large 13 surfaces, ranging from 22 by 15 metres (72 ft × 49 ft) to 65 by 8 metres (213 ft × 26 ft) (with a gold leaf wood grain pattern in the large auditorium).[1]

Its location was fixed on 8 March 1999, on a municipal tract of Boavista, where construction began.[1] The site was once a former staging area for trams.[1] Construction occurred in the next four years over schedule, and cost 100 million Euros, a process that challenged engineers, due to its unusual configuration.[1]

It was open to the public on 14 April 2005, with performances by Clã and Lou Reed, while the official inauguration occurred the next day, with the presence of the Portuguese President, Prime Minister, other notable politicians and members of Portuense society, with the concert by the Orquestra Nacional do Porto (Porto National Orchestra).[1][2] It immediately became a city icon. Featuring a 1300-seat auditorium suffused with daylight, it is the only concert hall in the world with two walls made entirely of glass.[3]

On 5 November 2005, an administrative process was open to classify the building as Imóvel de Interesse Público (Property of Public Interest), defined as "urgent" by the administration.[1]

The building's design was acclaimed worldwide. Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic from the New York Times, classified it as the "most attractive project the architect Rem Koolhaas has ever built" and indicated that it's "a building whose intellectual ardor is matched by its sensual beauty". He also compared it to the "exuberant design" in Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. "Only looking into the original aspect of the building, this is one of the most important concert halls built in the last 100 years". He compares it to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, in Los Angeles, and the Berliner Philharmonie.[4]

A foundation, the Fundação Casa da Música, was instituted on 26 January 2006 under decree 16/2006.[1] But, in reference to its classification the process was archived on 15 March 2011.[1]

In September 2008, the Casa da Música hosted the Orquestra Nacional do Porto, which took part in explorative public presentations, where performed music was captured alongside musician's and conductor's expressive gestures. Various sensor networks sourced and translated musical expressions into computer driven visual interpretations (that included lighting, projected images, and real-time improvisations) for the audience to experience added nuance of performance.[5] Scientific articles are also published on special needs performances/workshops in Casa da Música 2007[6] & 2008.[7]


The reception hall
One of the distinct interior views of the main auditorium
The azulejo walls on the VIP hall
The interactive computer room in Casa da Música

The building is located in an isolate position, implanted on an ample paved square, situated between two principal axises at the traffic circle of Boavista, a confluence of various roads and avenues.[1] It is delimited in the east by the Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque (within the Boavista traffic circle), a large forested greenspace, with the monument dedicated to the Heroes of the Peninsular War (at its centre); to the north, by Rua 5 de Outubro; to the south, by the Avenida da Boavista; and, in the west, by Rua Ofélia Diogo da Costa.[1]

The architecturally-innovative building is formally-configured around an asymmetrical polyhedron that extends over nine floors.[1] The building is covered in plaques of white cement, cut by large undulated or plane glass windows.[1] The principal entrance is oriented to Avenida da Boavista, preceded by staircase, its exterior encircled by yellow marble pavement with a hint of brown, conferring a accentuated dimension and beauty, a distinct feature of its neighbourhood.[1]


Casa da Música has two main auditoriums, though many other areas of the building can very easily be adapted for concerts and other musical activity (workshops, educational activities, etc.):[1]

  • The large, 1,100 square metres (12,000 sq ft) rectangular auditorium (dubbed the Suggia hall) includes a sloped arena with capacity for 1238 places, with flexibility to vary depending on the event, and two lateral balconies.[1] Laterally, in the extremities, are glazed windows that permit a visual connection to the exterior public spaces. The spaces are predominantly decorated by gold and silver tones.[1]
  • The smaller auditorium, on the fifth floor, has an area of 320 square metres (3,400 sq ft), with the capacity for 300 seated and 600 standing spectators, depending on the size of the event and location of the stage, as well as the size of sound and recording equipment, etc.[1] The auditorium is highly flexible, with a space decorated in red, black floor that provides temporary seating and flexibility for different events.[1]

In addition to the principal auditoriums, there are other open spaces for artistic, cultural and recreational events of a musical nature, such as the "Cybermúsica" hall, a 156 square metres (1,680 sq ft) space used for innovative educational projects (located on the fourth floor).[1] This space is notable for the ceiling and walls lined with pyramidal volumes.[1] The ample "Renaissance" Hall, located on the fifth floor, is covered in decorative blue, green and white azulejos.[1] The "VIP" hall situated on the sixth floor, is a special, multi-functional space for activities involving small groups.[1] The walls and ceilings are covered in azulejo panels, replicas of many hand-painted panels typical in museums across Portugal and Holland.[1] There are also purple and orange halls located on the fifth floor, preferentially used for children.[1] On the seventh floor is an ample area divided into platforms that are raised to the top, in glass, transformed into a terrace, with optimum views to the sea. It has the principle function to serve as support for various colloquia, book launches, press conferences, public presentations and receptions.[1] There are also halls for training, of various dimensions, located in the sub-basement, with capacity for group activities.[1] On the roof is the restaurant, with trapezoidal terrace, excavated into two of the polyhedron's vertices, with a esplanade with views over the traffic circle of Boavista and Porto.[1] The restaurant has direct access to the principal auditorium and exposure to giant branch light, elaborated with hundreds of bottles of pommery champagne.[1] Functioning since August 2006, the restaurant's original plan had capacity for 250 people, which decreased to 150. Throughout the nine floors exist various support bars for the various auditoriums and artists' bar sited on the eastern ground floor.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae Filipe, Ana; Ferreira, João; Filipe, Ana (2011), SIPA, ed., Casa da Música (IPA.00021031/PT011312040305) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 14 April 2017
  2. ^ Simas, Richard, Casa Da Música Builds A Home For Experimental Music, Musicworks, retrieved 22 November 2015
  3. ^ Sudjic, Deyan (10 April 2005). "We got rid of the shoe box". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (25 December 2005), "A Vision of a Mobile Society Rolls Off the Assembly Line", New York Times
  5. ^
  6. ^ Archived 22 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^


  • Fernandes, Fátima; Cannatã, Michele (2002), Guia da Arquitectura Moderna (in Portuguese), Porto, Portugal
  • Wigley, Mark; Koolhaas, Rem (2008). Casa da Musica. Porto: Fundação Casa da Música. ISBN 9789892010106.

External links[edit]