The Casa da Musica concert hall is a building full of scenographic moments and ironic gestures. A series of spaces, sequences and staircases negotiate their way around the auditorium. Aluminium-clad steps rise and turn, following the beautifully made concrete shell – the space sometimes soaring up to the roof, crossed by the forms of smaller rooms above.
The building looks as if it has been hammered into the ground, creating eruptions and ripples in an empty plaza, providing a three dimensional landscape for skate-boarding, promenading and performance. This is a building that, surprisingly perhaps, arises directly out of its programme. The acousticians argued for an orthogonal shape for the concert hall (there are two of them in fact) as the best shape for music to be made in and listened to.
Having determined the shapes of the concert halls, the architects had then to decide on the envelope. This was suggested by a previously unexecuted design which allowed an intriguing pattern of circulation, foyers, bars and break-out areas to develop between, as it were, the core and the shell.
The auditorium is a fixed rake rectangular box with very long straight rows of seats. The double skin end walls of sinuous corrugated glass provide acoustic enclosure and dramatically distorted views to the outside.
This is a well-made building which is intriguing, disquieting and dynamic; a strange, enigmatic and compelling object in the urban form of the city of Porto.