“ Destination: Music hall / Concert hall / Location: Espaco Plaza Av Boavista 650 4149-071, Oporto, Portugal / Tel: +351 220 120 200 „
In April 2005 a very strange looking building was constructed on the Avenida da Boavista at number 610. This is an area that is residential with modern apartment blocks and smart new hotels. The angular building with a terrace overlooking the city of Porto and towards the Rotunda da Boavista is called the Casa da Musica. The house of music should have been finished in 1999 but for some reason the construction seemed to drag on and the project went way above budget. Although, very unusual with its impressive lop sided angles this is one contemporary building in Porto I am not very fond of - well from the outside that is.
During the past few years a lot of renovation work has taken place in various parts of Porto - a sort of urban renewal programme. This building designed by Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch architect, is the first building in Porto to be totally dedicated to music. It's aim was to provide exciting spaces with great acoustics and unexpected natural rays of light. Performances range from classical to Portuguese Fado to rock.
The building inside has a minimalist look with seven floors of bleak white walls, concrete pillars, soft aluminium touches and sheets of glass everywhere ranging from ceilings to panels and doors. Walkways float around the building and when strolling around sometimes seems as if you are suspended in the air. The fusion of glass, metal and concrete is dazzling and sometimes I found the glass floors and glass ceilings made me feel a little queasy.
Furniture in some of the auditoriums is fixed, other pieces can be moved around to create whatever atmosphere on the night is needed. What is interesting is the way light from the outside floats through the different angles of the building and during an evening performance blends in with the muliti - coloured stage lights.
The Italian-fusion Kool restaurant on the seventh floor underneath the roof named after the building's architect is an interesting place to eat a meal. The diffused lighting here is easy on the eye and relaxing while dining but also is good enough to lounge around after a meal and read a book or magazine. The building is air conditioned throughout which is excellent in the summer months.
The Casa da Musica is used for educational purposes as well as recreational uses. Groups of adults and school children from Portugal and other countries are encouraged to learn about Portugal's musical heritage and the relevance of music in the city of Porto including the history of Fado. Guided tours are available in English and Portuguese and visitors are encouraged to interact with the environment by using musical instruments and joining in theatre and dance groups. A tour of the house costs 3 Euros. Always best to make an appointment if you wish to join a guided tour as English and Portuguese tours take place at different times. Portuguese 11:00am - 16:00 pm. English tours from 16.00pm.
I have to say that I don't like the exterior as it is too stark against the skyline of Porto but the seven floors are exciting to walk round and the sound quality is truly amazing. I think the concept of having a house dedicated to music is a good one and something I am sure the citizens of Porto appreciate and are proud of.
Reservations Tel: 351 220 120 220