Casa da Musica is one of the most emblematic yet controversial buildings in the city of Porto. Most people have a love-hate relationship with ‘the House’, as most of us refer to it. This is the official residence o Music.
Let us take you on a tour of the iconic Casa da Musica and its unique features.
Porto, European Cultural Capital 2001
In 2001 Porto and Rotterdam were European Cultural Capitals.
Casa da Musica was the most ambitious project for the event. The goal was to create a space where Music could have a place of its own and bring the city together to appreciate and learn more about music.
The location was central and this new construction would bring urban and social renovation to an area of the city that needed a cultural, urban and social boost.
Construction started in 1999. It wasn’t finished until 2005, missing the initial goal: to hold the musical events for Porto – European Cultural Capital’01.
Casa da Música’s project
It stands out for its uniqueness and strong visual impact. Some people compare it to a meteorite. It unarguably conferred a new identity to the city, becoming an icon and a reference point for locals and visitors.
Rem Koolhaas adapted a previous project. The original project was for a family house. The final project was a house for Music. There were a couple of concerns taken into account: an author statement and a visual continuity for interior and exterior spaces and the reference spaces inside the building.
‘Casa da Música’ is like a surprise box. It undeniably causes contradictory feelings. It has an aura of mystery. No matter if you love it or hate it, it will never be indifferent to you.
This is the main concert hall. The focal space of Casa da Música. It’s named after the outstanding cello player Guilhermina Suggia. This is the only concert hall in the world with enough natural to read music sheets without artificial lighting.
The room has seven windows connecting it to the exterior and to other interior spaces. The decorative elements – gold carving and the pipe organ – are a reference to different decorative arts and fundamental periods of Music history.
These elements coexist with other contemporaries, such as the canopy, the royal hall and the maintenance bridge.
The main characteristic of this concert hall is the acoustics. No matter where you sit, there is an equitable distribution of the sound. This happens because the materials used in the covering of the walls and ceilings, as well as the glasses, were designed specifically for this purpose.
This is because the materials used in the covering of the walls and ceilings, as well as the glasses, were designed for this purpose. Even the fabric used in the chairs lining was thought to mimic 70% of human occupation of the room.
It is is a polyvalent room. It may house any type of event. The acoustics are phenomenal.
All the equipment may be totally removed or moved from one place to another, inside the room. There is a huge window, oriented south, which gives it a unique light and also filters the light to Sala Suggia, with a shade of red.
The walls are lined with perforated plywood, dipped in red paint, conferring the room a sense of warmness and comfort.
The purple chairs are a homage to Daciano da Costa, a Portuguese designer, author of that 70s chair model.
There are numerous rooms and halls at Casa da Musica but the most formal area of the house is the VIP room. This space was conceived to connect Porto and Rotterdam, as European Cultural Capitals of 2001. The walls are lined with tiles from the Portuguese and the Netherlands.
There is a large window opening the house to the city, with a view that spans from Clérigos Tower to the Atlantic Ocean.
Destined to be a technical space, it was transformed into a ‘square’ for different events. There is a big skylight that brings light into the room and that can completely transform the space. It can be (mechanically) opened, turning the space into a terrace.
You can find the ‘Gamelão’ in this area, a handmade instrument by an artisan from Java (Indonesia).
Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música (symphonic orchestra), Remix Ensemble Casa da Música, Orquestra Barroca Casa da Música (barroque orchestra) and Coro Casa da Música (choir) are the in-house ensembles.
When planning your visit, take a look at the program and try to attend one of the in-house ensembles’ performances. They are definitely worth your time.
Casa da Música is the perfect place for a musical experience with the bonus of taking place in one of the most incredible buildings in the city.
There is also a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal and sometimes enjoy a Fado dinner.
If you’re a music lover and/or architecture lover, this is one of the mandatory visits in Porto. And we can take you there!