DJI Phantom 4: Porto | Casa da Música & Rotunda Boavista / Digi Flow / 2016
Mr. Koolhaas begins by emphasizing the building's isolation. The structure is set atop a carpet of soft pink travertine, like a cut jewel displayed on a luxurious piece of fabric. At various points, the travertine curves up to cover the structures scattered around the plaza -- a bus stop, a cafe, the entrances to an underground garage -- as if these practical elements were literally being swept under a rug.
Seen from a late-19th-century park across the street, the building has an almost formal elegance. Yet as you circle around it, its canted walls distort your sense of perspective, making it hard to get a sense of its dimensions. From other angles, its faceted form juts out unevenly, so that the entire structure seems oddly off balance. ➡︎
It stands on the Rotunda da Boavista like a futuristic crustacean that has thrown the waves of the Atlantic up over the Avenida da Boavista onto land. The ocean isn’t far from here, and you can see that in the city. Porto looks rusted, salted and crumbling in its beauty. Like colorful flotsam after a storm, the houses dangle from the hills, houses that anchor themselves strangely and, with their wild tiled skirts, look as if their lining were turned inside out. ➡︎
KOOLHAAS: [...] I never connected the project to the extraterrestrial, or to a meteorite. I hate that metaphor [...] Because it suggests alienness and impact but the project is about relationships and delicacy. WIGLEY: One could be a delicate alien. KOOLHAAS: But a meteorite is a kind of assault; it can’t connect with an existing situation. Paradoxically, the local about the project is more interesting for me than the foreign. ➡︎
The context of Portugal, Porto and the Rotunda seems to have been liberating. The skill of Portuguese masons and concrete specialists, along with the relatively coherent urban situation, have produced a building of great conviction, and one that is difficult to place in the context of Koolhaas’ work. “Our office has an undeserved reputation for not being interested in context,” says Koolhaas. The building seems formally reminiscent of Seattle Library in the way that its skin unites a series of given volumes. It is close to the Dutch embassy in Berlin in the sense that it creates an episodic route around the building that is not defined by given floor plates. But its materiality and strange decorum subvert the regular OMA rulebook. This is a building of extraordinary quality in its construction, and despite its asteroidal form, one that defers to its urban context, with a generous attitude about the potential for the spaces around the building. ➡︎
Koolhaas told Yaneva that just before he was asked by the Portuguese client to design the concert hall, he was asked by a Dutch client to design a new house. When the Dutch client rejected the design, the drawings disappeared into the archive but were soon taken out again for the Casa da Música commission.
The drawing of the house was blown up and elaborated further and thus acquired a new life in a totally different form. Exceptional, thinks Yaneva: One would never expect such a mundane story of invention to be told. Stories of reuse, of scaling up of rejected concepts, of recollecting and recycling existing models are not told that often, and certainly not in public. ➡︎
Despite its contemporaneity, the Casa da Musica (2005) by OMA appears to have been designed with intentions that could be called classical. Particularly, this classical character is manifested in the building's axial urban relationship, its formal derivation and deviation from platonic figures (in this case, the square), strong compositional moves based on the proportional phenomenon of the golden ratio, and the subtle inflections of space that evoke the architectural traditions of ancient Greece and Rome. But is the Casa's design intended as a critique of the very classical precepts it appropriates? Misalignments of center, blurring of structural and spatial figures, and an undercurrent of typological ambiguity—a split personality half Greek, half Roman—could all be read as challenging of what Eisenman has called "the metaphysics of presence," a critical project ongoing in architecture since Brunelleschi. ➡︎
◼︎ Rem Koolhaas Learns Not to Overthink It / Nicolai Ouroussoff / The New York Times / April 10 2005
◼︎ Rem Koolhaas’ Casa da Música, Porto / Niklas Maak / 032c Issue #10 / Winter 2005/2006
◼︎ Rem Koolhaas and Mark Wigley in Discussion / Casa Da Musica Porto / Fundação Casa da Música / 2008
◼︎ Casa da Musica / Kieran Long / ICON 024 / June 2005
◼︎ Blue Foam / Joost Zonneveld / ArchiNed / March 23 2010
◼︎ Interpret: Casa da Música / Tyler Survant / 2008