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OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

China Architecture News - Dec 03, 2021 - 10:15   3993 views

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Beijing-based architecture firm OPEN Architecture has designed a monolithic open-air concert hall providing views to the ruins of the Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall outside Beijing, China

Named The Chapel of Sound, the 790-square-metre structure is comprised of a layered concrete that gives an organic and rock appearance to capture "unfamiliar and deeply touching experience of music performed in the cradle of nature."

Entirely built from concrete, the structure is enriched with an aggregate made of local mineral-rich rocks, and contains a semi-outdoor amphitheater, outdoor stage, viewing platforms, and a green room.

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

The architects "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 also acts as a tranquil space for contemplation and community gatherings with stunning views of the sky and the surrounding landscape.

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

To create a strong dialogue with nature and landscape, OPEN’s founding partners Li Hu and Huang Wenjing aimed to minimise the footprint of the concert hall in the valley, while also they make feeling undeniably man made. 

The rock-like structure comprises an inner and outer shell with the space between operating like a truss, and to achieve this the architects worked in close collaboration with international engineering firm, Arup

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Entirely formed from concrete, the overall language of the building forms a cone shape since each striation cantilevers out from the previous layer. Winding staircases weave through the building to a rooftop platform that offers panoramic views of the valley and Great Wall. 

Inside, the studio uses accents of bronze for details such as handrails and doors are used to create a warm contrast against the concrete.

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Runzi Zhu

As the architects highlight, 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”. 

The architects looked at the ways sound reverberates in natural spaces such as caves. "Having designed theaters and concert halls, they knew the challenges here was how to create excellent acoustic environment without introducing additional sound absorbing materials," stated in a project description. 

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Runzi Zhu

"Working with acoustic engineers, OPEN looked at the many ways people will experience sound in the concert hall and defined openings that act both as the sound absorption areas and providing a connection with the exterior environment."

OPEN Architecture said that "we were very aware of the responsibility we had to contribute a thoughtful structure that fits naturally into such a unique landscape." 

"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."

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

The building offers an inherent air of mystery around the Chapel of Sound that draws visitors in as they approach the building. 

According to the architects, the Chapel of Sound can be experienced in many different ways, such as this extends to how people will interact with the space, from being a place for individual reflection to a venue for large-scale concerts.

Huang said: "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."

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

With no heating or air-conditioning, the Chapel of Sound consumes minimum energy, something OPEN was very conscious of when designing the building. 

Thanks to the structure's large openings they allow the natural elements to come inside, while a void in the centre of the rooftop allows daylight to enter the structure and naturally illuminates the performance spaces. 

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image courtesy of OPEN Architecture

When it rains the water will also cascade through the void, however, inspired by the Pantheon, OPEN designed a drainage system that quickly drains the water away.

Li and Huang spent over 10 years training and working in the United States and as a result are very conscious of moving away from traditionally “Eastern” or “Western” ideas of architecture, particularly when it comes to cultural spaces. 

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN understands that the perceived differences in how cultures experience events and spaces are overstated and through their architecture strive to demonstrate that architecture has the power to connect people with each other, with nature, and with our own past and future.

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Runzi Zhu

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Runzi Zhu

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Nan Ni

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Nan Ni

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Image © Right Angle

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

Sketch 

OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

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OPEN Architecture designs monolithic rock-like open-air concert hall in the north of Beijing

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OPEN Architecture previously designed Pinghe Bibliotheater in Shanghai. The studio converted a disused aviation fuel tanks into Contemporary Art Center in Shanghai. A cave-like UCCA Dune Art Museum along the coast of northern China’s Bohai Bay is one of the studio's significant projects. 

Project facts

Project name: The Chapel of Sound

Architects: OPEN Architecture 

Location: Chengde, China

Size: 790m2 

Client: Aranya

Principals in Charge: LI Hu, HUANG Wenjing

Project Team: ZHOU Tingting, FANG Kuanyin, HUANG Zetian, LIN Bihong, CHEN Xiuyuan, CAI Zhuoqun, KUO Chunchen, TANG Ziqiao

Structural & MEP Engineers: Arup

Lighting Consultant: Ning Field Lighting Design

Theater & Acoustic Consultant: JH Theatre Architecture Design Consulting Company

Landscape Design: Guangzhou Turen Landscape Planning Co., Ltd.

Signage Design: OPEN

Top image © Jonathan Leijonhufvud

All images © Jonathan Leijonhufvud unless otherwise stated. 

All drawings © OPEN Architecture

> via OPEN Architecture