China-based firm OPEN Architecture has revealed the Chapel of Sound, a concert hall located in a valley famous for hosting remnants of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall in the north of Beijing. This semi-outdoor concert hall rests on the floor of the valley as if a strange and prehistoric boulder had fallen there long ago. Made entirely out of concrete mixed with an aggregate of crushed local mineral-rich rocks, its inverted conic structure houses a semi-outdoor amphitheater, an outdoor stage, viewing platforms, and supporting spaces.
Shaped acoustically for music performances, the hall can also be used as a space for contemplation and community gatherings. The large opening on the structure’s top, together with small openings of varied shapes cut into its walls, bring in stunning views of the sky and surrounding valley, as well as the different sounds of nature.
When the sun shines, sunbeams dance across the rough surfaces of the cave, filling it with light as well as sound; when it rains, water to creates a meditative performance of its own as it falls through the hall’s central opening, splashing onto the floor before flowing out through floor channels. When there is no scheduled concert– no choir or instruments playing—the hall still remains a destination—one at which to quietly listen to the sound of birds singing, insects chirping, gentle breezes rustling through nearby trees, or raindrops on the floor. Inside this mysterious space, nature orchestrates an ever-changing symphony. It is a chapel of sound.
The layered form of the building takes inspiration from the sedimentary rock formations of the surrounding mountains while asserting the human hands involved in its construction and avoiding mere mimicry of natural rock. Against the backdrop of the rough and cave-like space, details designed with care and warmth offer quiet comfort as visitors take respite in both natural and musical sound.
Finally, ascending to the top through winding stairways, visitors suddenly find themselves on a plateau on top of the concert hall. There, surrounded by stunning panoramic views of the valley, they are greeted by the sight of the nearby Great Wall.