OMA’s Casa da Musica wins RIBA Award

The Office for Metropolitan Architecture’s (OMA) concert hall, Casa da Musica, situated in the historical centre of Porto, Portugal has received the European Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

This prestigious prize is awarded yearly for outstanding contributions to architectural design in Europe. The Jurors described Casa da Musica as ‘intriguing, disquieting and dynamic’ and went on to remark that the project ‘provides acoustically excellent spaces for the performance of all kinds of music, and fulfils another contemporary role as a strange, enigmatic and compelling object in the urban form of the city of Porto.’

The European Award is the first major award that Casa da Musica has won since opening its doors to the public in the spring of 2005. Casa da Musica is now in the running for the coveted RIBA Stirling Prize. This award is presented to the architect of a building that has made a significant impact for the evolution of architecture in that particular year.

OMA won the competition for the Casa da Musica as part of Porto’s program to initiate and prepare different urban and cultural interventions for the city of Porto during it’s time as European Capital of Culture in 2001.

The building contains two shoe box shaped auditoriums. The voids created by these two concert spaces is used as a public space with 8 rehearsal rooms, IT and educational facilities, a music shop and rooms with recording facilities. The uniqueness of this building is also expressed through its concrete and glass faceted exterior, complete with an intimate roof terrace that offers views over the city of Porto.

This project was led by OMA partners Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon. Commenting on Casa da Musica, Mr. Rem Koolhaas said ‘Most cultural institutions serve only part of a population. A majority knows their exterior shape, only a minority knows what happens inside. With Casa da Musica, OMA wanted to address the relationship between the Concert Hall and the public inside as well as outside the building.’

‘We are proud of the result of this collaboration with the City of Porto. This building offers the city not only a dynamic music hall but also a vibrant public space,’ Mr Koolhaas said.

Other international awards won by OMA include the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2000, the RIBA Gold Medal (UK) in 2004 and the Mies van der Rohe – European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, 2005.