Casa da Musica: a polyhedric experience

EHESS - Salle 11  -  105, boulevard Raspail  -  75006 Paris

Intervention de Nuno Grande, docteur en architecture et enseignant (Université de Coimbra, Université de Porto), dans le cadre du séminaire « Espaces et lieux de musique : le musicien, l’architecte, le spectateur et le politique », coordonné par Claire Guiu, Denis Laborde, Karine Le Bail et Michael Werner (CRIA-EHESS).


Casa da Música (House of Music), the recent Porto Concert Hall, is one of the most emblematic  public works carried out in Portugal over the last decade. Its cultural program, as well as the  architectural competition that led to the choice of the building - signed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA  -, constituted a major political stake of the international event Porto 2001, European Capital of  Culture.  After its completion, in 2005, Casa da Música became, at once, one of the major European  architectural icons of the last decade, introducing, in Porto, what some critics call the Bilbao  effect, recalling the economic and touristic vitality that such architectures often introduce in  middle-sized cities, as happened with the famous Guggenheim Bilbao Museum (1997).  However, unlike the case of Bilbao, Casa da Música does not result from any imposed policy of  "cultural franchising" (through a top-down logic) but, instead, from an ancient aspiration and  demand by the Portuguese artistic milieu, and by Porto musicians in particular (that is, through  a bottom-up logic).  The polyhedric building proposed by Rem Koolhaas emphasises the long western avenue of  the city - Avenida da Boavista - and announces, in scale and form, the uniqueness of its  contemporary musical programming. In fact, Casa da Música has proven its relevance within  the Portuguese cultural panorama - it houses the Symphonic Orchestra of Porto, a Baroque  Orchestra, and an Ensemble for Contemporary Music (Remix Ensemble) -, but also abroad,  integrating various international cultural networks such as Réseau Varèse and Réseau  Européen de Musique Ancienne. Like the building, its cultural program is also polyhedric,  covering various facets of musical creation (classical and contemporary) and targeting different  audiences.  Inside Casa da Música, a complex ambulatory space motivates a kaleidoscope of events – in  the exuberant main Auditorium (1300 seats), a voided "shoebox" shaped room opened to the  city in its two top sides; in the intimacy of the Small Auditorium (300 seats); or in several other  informal spaces like the Parking Garage often used for experimental concerts. Outside Casa da  Música, the waving plasticity of the surrounding plaza implies new enjoyment areas for urban  daily uses, sometimes spontaneous, sometimes planned, especially on summer festival nights.  These areas are continually experienced by musicians and Djs, and informally appropriated by  city bikers and skaters.  Casa da Música is, therefore, a cheerful encounter between a powerful architectural “hardware” and an ecumenical cultural "software".

Références bibliographiques

  • FUNDAÇÃO CASA DA MÚSICA, Casa da Música/Porto (2 Vol.). Porto: Fundação Casa da Música, 2008 
  • GRANDE, Nuno, “El fantasma de la Ópera. Un auditório de Koolhaas en Oporto”, Arquitectura Viva, nº  96. Madrid: Arquitectura Viva SL, 2004, pp.82-83 
  • GRANDE, Nuno, “Sígnales Extraños. La Casa da Música de Koolhaas en la cultura urbana de Oporto”, 2G  Dossier, Portugal 2000-2005, 25 edificios del siglo XXI. Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 2005, pp.128-137 
  • GRANDE, Nuno, “VIP3, Very Irregular Polyhedric Room, Casa da Música” (Premios FAD 2007), ON  Diseño, nº295. Barcelona: ON Diseño, SL, 2008, pp.282-287
  • KOOLHAAS, Rem, “Copy and Paste”, in Content, Preverted Architecture. Köln: Taschen, 2004, pp.302-315
  • le mercredi 13 février 2013  de 10h  à 13h
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