Google’s Mountain View headquarters is noteworthy for many reasons, but Halo is decidedly one of the most visually pleasing. Designed by SOFTlab, the commissioned public artwork pulls inspiration from an unexpected source – pavilions found in Romantic English Gardens. From its location on a hill, Halo can be seen above the treetops by surrounding roadways and enjoyed beyond the campus.
As Halo is approached, glimpses of what lies within the kaleidoscope interior is revealed. Designed as a pavilion in the round, Halo has no front or back. With an exterior clad in vertical aluminum tubes and an interior structure made of dichroic acrylic, the stark difference is immense, leaving visitors with the feeling of having entered a geode through variously-sized archways.
SOFTlab worked with ARUP’s New York office to pull off the engineering and accompanying details. The prismatic interior consists of over 200 stainless steel modules, while the exterior includes more than 1,400 lengths of matte anodized aluminum tubing hung upon a stainless steel structure. Laser cut to frame the archways, the upper portion of the tubes hold 300 LED fixtures. Programmed using a generative atmospheric animation that mimics cloud movement, the animation appears to dissipate from the top of the Halo’s interior through perforations on the surface of the tubes when lit.
During a daytime visit, you’ll experience sunlight coming through the top of the open pavilion as it bounces and reflects off of each iridescent facet onto everything that surrounds it. The pieces of dichroic acrylic allow light and color to shift, filtering through a veritable rainbow of spectrums decided by the angle of your view. When hit front on, the panels turn orange, green, and yellow.
Nighttime brings something different, with the LEDs shining through perforations to create a moving constellation of light that filters through the inner structure. The dichroic facets are now lit from behind, shifting the spectrum to hues of green, blue, and purple. Stand further away from Halo and the reflecting light appears to be blowing through the pavilion as though it were wind, the illumination falling in and out of focus as it soothes and relaxes viewers.
To learn more about Halo, visit soft-lab.com.
Photography by Alan Tansey.