Ephemeral spaces

Porto. Portugal

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VIP3. Very Irregular Polyhedric Room. VIP Room, Casa da Música

Nuno Grande, arquitecto

FAD Awards finalist 2008  Ephemeral interventions
Description Technical file

This is a project born with the vocation of establishing a dialogue between the space and the public. The installation stands as something more than a series of elements that fill up a room, as it opens up to a dialogue with a very special environment, the VIP Room of the Casa da Música designed by Rem Koolhaas in Porto, a space that defies its formality and is recreated in a project of sculptural characteristics. Twelve edges of light confer a new limit on the polyhedral void of this room, recalling the irregular volume of the building that contains it. The background sound evokes the ephemeral installations of Iannis Xenakis (Polytopes), architect and composer that set Le Corbusier’s last works to sound. The installation is also a pretext for debating, in parallel public sessions, the container building, its programme and other relations between geometry, architecture and music. As part of the installation, the neighbours of Porto were called to interpret the Casa da Música in the shape of sweet pastries, provoking an ironic dialogue between architects and architecture critics and the art of pastry making. The initiative was entitled ‘Home sweet home’ and the starting question used was: Is Casa da Música a sweet project?

This ephemeral installation is the result of an invitation launched by the Administration of Casa da Música – the Concert Hall designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA in Porto – seeking to open the Casa to interventions by other creators such as artists, designers and architects, thus seeking a stimulating dialogue with the interior spaces and with the visiting public during or between the musical events held here. The challenge was the result of an idea proposed and encouraged by the author of the building. For the inaugural intervention, it was sought for this installation to establish a connection between the interior and the exterior of the Casa, particularly between the emblematic space of the Great Auditorium and the surrounding city, using to this end the most paradoxical point, though also the most visible one to do it in – the VIP Room.
In this way, VIP3 – Very Irregular Polyhedric Room – was presented as an installation of light and sound that, rather than “squatting”, sought first to establish a dialogue with the VIP Room of the Casa da Música, defying its institutional formality and subtly outlining its spatial qualities. Twelve edges of incandescent light will give a new limit to the polyhedral void of this room, recalling the irregular polyhedron of the building that contains it.
The supporting structure was conceived in Nordic pine –identical to the one that clads the Great Auditorium – and its assembly, besides evoking a “povera” aesthetic in contrast to the ornamental richness of the enveloping tiles proposed by Koolhaas, was shifted away from the lines of composition of the Room, except in the main angles of the irregular volume that it sought to reinforce.
Seen from the city, the installation operated as a “signal” at night, revealing the strange and seductive shape of this iconoclastic work but also the wish of its programme to democratise its cultural enjoyment. In the same line, the background sound evoked the ephemeral installations of Iannis Xenakis (Polytopes), an unavoidable architect and composer from the second half of the twentieth century who was also interested in establishing a more ecumenical relationship between architecture and music. This ephemeral project was finally a pretext to launch a series of conferences and debates on the intersections between music, architecture and geometry, involving the participation of politicians, sociologists, architects, musicians and mathematicians, as well as a closing “dinner party” where the citizens were invited to bring along their own interpretations of the polyhedron of the Casa da Música in the shape of edible scale models. As can be seen, for a month this Casa was turned into a highly irregular space.

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Localización: Casa da Música, Porto, Portugal. Autor: Nuno Grande, arquitecto. Ingeniería (cálculo estructural y potencia lumínica): Alexandra Grande. Colaboración: Matilde Seabra. Producción y montaje: Pedra Líquida. Promotor: Fundación Casa da Música. Sonido de fondo: Iannis Xenakis, Polytope de Cluny (1972) for tape (24:45). Fotografía: Fernando Guerra.
Nuno Grande
4050-040 Porto, Portugal
Fernando Guerra (Estudio FG+SG)
1900-271 Lisboa, Portugal