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​A monolithic Chapel of Sound has opened near the Great Wall of China

Chinese studio Open Architecture has unveiled an open-air concert hall where you can “see the shape of sound”

  • Olivia Wycech
  • 29 November 2021
​A monolithic Chapel of Sound has opened near the Great Wall of China

Chinese studio Open Architecture has unveiled a stunning monolithic structure that is designed to — according to the designers — “see the shape of sound” nearby the Great Wall of China, just two hours from Beijing.

Essentially a piece of acoustic architecture — or a boulder depending on your point of view — the cave-like open-air concert venue is nestled in the rolling hills of Jinshanling on a lookout point that peaks out onto ruins of the Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall of China. Comprised of rippling slabs of concrete, the structure is designed to blend with its rocky terrain surroundings, with the architects saying its appearance is “as if a strange and prehistoric boulder had fallen there long ago.”

The sculptural stone stabs make up a semi-exposed amphitheatre, an outdoor stage with stadium-style seating, viewing platforms and a rehearsal room, with an inner and outer shell connecting the interior with the outside environment. Plenty of natural light and carefully constructed interiors ensure excellent acoustics and rainwater drainage.

The team said they drew inspiration from ideas of spirituality and the relationship between music and humanity, and did a lot of research into natural spaces where sound reverberates, like caves. Each element of the Chapel of Sound was thoughtfully designed, especially when it comes to its natural-looking landscape.

“We were very aware of the responsibility we had to contribute a thoughtful structure that fits naturally into such a unique landscape,” said the architects. “We wanted to create something different, and more importantly, something meaningful. We are now at a time that the question of our relationship with nature as human beings is more acute than ever. Can we be humble enough to hear what nature is murmuring to us? The symphony of nature is what we really wanted people to experience here.”

“To create something that belongs to this very special land, its valley and rocky mountain around, has been the essential question from the inception of the design to the execution of its final details. The colour of the concrete, intentionally darkened to charcoal, blends further to the hilly landscape. The layering of the irregular geometry of the building relates to the rock formation of the surroundings.”

Although the Chapel of Sound was designed to host musical performances, Open Architecture also intends for it to be a space of quiet contemplation with thanks to natural sounds like the breeze, birds and insects chirping nearby, altogether creating an “ever-changing symphony” of nature.

“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. The symphony of nature is what we really wanted people to experience here.”

Open Architecture is a design studio founded by life partners Li Hu and Huang Wenjing. Their other projects in China include a cave-like art gallery inside a sane dune and a library and theatre that looks like a blue whale.

[Story via Wallpaper, photos via Jonathan Leijonhufvud]

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