The Chapel of Sound Orchestrates a Symphony of Nature

An intriguing boulder lies in the midst of a valley in North Beijing, about a two-hour drive from the capital of China. One might think this was simply an ancient, albeit elegant, rock formation but it is actually structured as an open concert hall called The Chapel of Sound. It is built with an outdoor stage, semi-outdoor auditorium, rehearsal rooms and several viewing decks.

The name itself is fitting as this grand cave-like space also exudes solemnity. Aside from its layered formation strategically molded to encapsulate the acoustic resonance of a musical performance, The Chapel of Sound may also be used as a venue for social gatherings and even for times of reflection, if one wishes. When there are no concerts scheduled, one could enjoy a relaxing and serene visit as several cuts and voids on the walls and a large opening at the top—reminiscent of a sunroof—bring in sunshine and abundant sounds of nature to soothe a weary soul. There are stairways as well, leading to a flattened roof where guests could enjoy majestic views of the valley and the nearby Great Wall of China.

This is a project by Open Architecture, a team of designers specializing in urban, landscape, architectural and interior design. Founded by Li Hu and Huang Wenjing, Open Architecture established its Beijing office in 2008. They have been awarded for their innovative designs, having recently won the 2021 AR Future Project Awards, 2020 Design for Asia Awards, 2020 London Design Museum’s Design of the Year Nomination (UK), 2019 LEAF Awards (EU), 2019 Interior Design Awards Best of Year (USA), 2019 P/A Awards (USA) and 2019 AZ Awards (Canada), among others.

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Gathering inspiration by the natural beauty of the valley, Open Architecture wanted to create a space that would assimilate to its surroundings. The Chapel of Sound is made entirely out of concrete and rocks enriched with minerals that were said to be remnants of the Ming Great Wall, and crafted carefully and intentionally to provide comfort to those who would visit.

“We were very aware of the responsibility we had to contribute a thoughtful structure that fits naturally into such a unique landscape. The symphony of nature is what we really wanted people to experience here,” said Open Architecture’s founders Li Hu and Huang Wenjing.

Whether it is to enjoy an unforgettable acoustic experience or to relish in the placid sights and sounds of the surrounding scenery, a trip to The Sound of Chapel will be well worth it indeed.

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Photography by Jonathan Leijonhufvud