Chinese studio Open Architecture unveils Chapel of Sound, a sculptural open-air concert hall in the forests of Jinshanling, a section of the Great Wall of China.
Nestled in a mountainous valley two hours away by car from the center of Beijing, The Chapel of Sound is a monolithic open-air concert hall with views to the ruins of the Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall.
Designed by Beijing-based architecture office, OPEN, to look as a mysterious boulder that had gently fallen into place, the building is built entirely from concrete that is enriched with an aggregate of local mineral-rich rocks, and encompasses a semi-outdoor amphitheater, outdoor stage, viewing platforms, and a green room. While designed to capture the unfamiliar and deeply touching experience of music performed in the cradle of nature, the architects also wanted people just to calm down and listen to the sound of nature, which they believe is profoundly inspiring and healing. When there is no performance, the concert hall is also a tranquil space for contemplation and community gatherings with stunning views of the sky and the surrounding landscape.
Formed from concrete, each striation cantilevers out from the previous layer to create the inverted cone shape. Winding staircases weave through the building to a rooftop platform that offers panoramic views of the valley and Great Wall. In the interior spaces, accents of bronze for details such as handrails and doors are used to create a warm contrast against the concrete.
The brief for the project was very open which inspired the architects to research all aspects of performance, looking at how the behaviors of sound could be a driving force behind the final shape of a building; Li and Huang described wanting to: “see the shape of sound”.
“We wanted the definition of the space to be not so absolute, thus allowing for possibilities. Solitary or communal, music or sound of nature, gazing into the starry sky or connecting with one’s inner self - it’s open to the interpretation of the users”.