Renowned architect visits site of proposed Sound Chapel

Internationally renowned architect Glenn Murcutt with music composer Georges Lentz from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on Monday inspecting the Silver Tank which is the proposed site for Cobar’s Sound Chapel. Photo contributed

Internationally acclaimed architect Glenn Murcutt was in town this week to assess the site for the proposed construction of a Sound Chapel.

Mr Murcutt accompanied music composer Georges Lentz, whose idea it was to create a unique Sound Chapel at the abandoned Silver Tank, 4km out of Cobar on the Chalky Road.

Mr Lentz first visited Cobar in 2008 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and said he instantly liked the town and its people.

He said it was his love of the outback and an avid interest in astronomy that provides him with inspiration for his music.

Mr Lentz said the idea of Cobar’s Sound Chapel was to create a peaceful space to listen to music while gazing at the stars.

Just over 12 months ago, he returned to Cobar to scout out a location for the Sound Chapel and stumbled on the Silver Tank which Mr Lentz described as “beautifully resonant” with natural acoustics.

Mr Lentz then sought out Mr Murcutt, who has won numerous awards, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the Alvar Aalto Medal, the Pritzker Prize for Architecture and the Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal, to work with him to create the Sound Chapel.

“It sounded like a fascinating project,” Mr Murcutt told The Cobar Weekly.

While many locals see the Silver Tank as just a rusty old tank, Mr Murcutt said he can also envisage what Mr Lentz’ Sound Chapel will look like.

He said to some it may have even sounded like a “hairbrained” idea, but it’s often those ideas that can turn out to be very wonderful creations.

Mr Murcutt has been working from photographs taken of the site and has completed the drawings for the development application.

He said once the grant application funding and approvals have been sorted he will do the final drawing. It will then go out to tender for the build process which he estimates will take about 4-5 months.

Mr Murcutt was excited to have made his first visit to the Silver Tank site on Monday.

“It was wonderful to have been able to get inside, it’s a very amazing space,” Mr Murcutt said.

“To actually have a building inside a structure is a very interesting idea.”

The Sound Chapel will have a glass lens ceiling so that you can see the sky from inside.

“There is a very nice connection between that rusty tank and the landscape,” he said.

“It does not aggressively impose on the landscape. I love the idea of a thing working with a landscape. When you enter this building, it will take you out of that landscape into another realm. Where the tank is, it’s very beautiful,” Mr Murcutt said.

Cobar Shire Council’s projects officer Angela Shepherd said council and Cobar Arts Council are working with Mr Lentz and Mr Murcutt on this unique project for Cobar.

Ms Shepherd said the project is expected to cost in the vicinity of $200,000 and will hopefully be fully funded by grant money.

“It’s a very unique idea and will be a drawcard for Cobar,” Ms Shepherd said.

Mr Lentz said the Sound Chapel will be a wonderful place for locals and visitors to listen to both recorded and live music.

Mr Murcutt said to have a quartet come to Cobar for a one weekend each year and play in the Sound Chapel was “a wonderful thing for a town so remote”.