architect Rem Koolhaas
project Casa Da Musica, Porto, Portugal
written and interviewed by  Hilde Bouchez




The sky is dotted with clouds as I walk from the old city centre towards Rotunda da Boavista. I have seen so many photographs of the building in the press that I expect my eye to be trained to spot the striking construction from a distance. In the background loom bland high-rise buildings, beacons of what Koolhaas calls ’junkspace’: urban space that has been filled with non-architecture over the last few years. As I approach Rotunda da Boavista, I am struck by a high column supporting an eagle being overpowered by an enormous lion. While trying to focus on the impressive sculpture, I suddenly notice, among the trees, a pitched white concrete roof with a cut-out terrace covered in large black-and-white tiles; below, a massive glass front. The tone is set. I am involuntarily reminded of Alice in Wonderland: the palace of the Queen of Hearts.