china-based firm OPEN architecture presents the proposed ‘chapel of sound,’ a concert hall on the northern border of beijing. currently under construction, the organic volume rests on the floor of the valley, suggestive of a strange and prehistoric fallen landform. built entirely of concrete mixed with an aggregate of crushed local mineral-rich rocks, the form of the inverted conical structure is designed to enhance acoustics. the project hosts a semi-outdoor amphitheater, an outdoor stage, and viewing platforms. the large skylight overhead, together with small apertures of varied shapes cut into its walls, offers views of the sky and surrounding valley, as well as the different sounds of nature.

open architecture chapel sound
all images courtesy of OPEN architecture



OPEN has been awarded a citation in the 66th annual progressive architecture (P/A) awards for its proposed chapel of sound. the design was influenced by the acoustic properties of resonant cavities found in shells, wooden instruments, and the human ear. through software simulation, the shape of the hall was optimized for sound quality while apertures serve to absorb sound and avoid undesirable reverberations. the layered nature of the structure mimics the sedimentary rock formations of the surrounding mountains. against the backdrop of the rough, cavernous space, details designed with care and warmth offer quiet comfort as visitors take respite in both natural and musical sound. even with no scheduled performance or musical event, the hall remains a destination for visitors — one in which to sit and quietly listen to an ever-changing natural symphony of birdsong, wind, and rain.

open architecture chapel sound



when the sun shines, the cavernous interior is illuminated from above and transformed with intricate shadows. rainwater creates a meditative performance of its own as it falls through the hall’s central opening, splashing onto the floor before flowing out through integrated channels. when ascending the winding stair toward the top of the hall, visitors emerge onto an exterior plateau rooftop. there, surrounded by stunning panoramic views of the valley, they are greeted by the sight of the nearby great wall for which the area is famous.

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project info:


name: chapel of sound
design year: 2017-2019
status: under construction
client: aranya
size: 790 sqm
location: chengde, china


architects: OPEN architecture

principles-in-charge: li hu, huang wenjing
design team: zhou tingting, fang kuanyin, lin bihong, kuo chunchen, hu boji, yang ling, li li, chen yang
structural & MEP engineers: arup
lighting consultant: beijing ning zhi jing lighting design co., ltd.
theater consultant: JH theater architecture design consulting company