First installed in Mexico City, Zeller & Moye’s Halo is intended to provide a mirrored sanctuary away from city crowds in the Covid-19 pandemic
Words by Francesca Perry
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be a somewhat stressful experience spending time outside in cities, as pavements and parks become crowded with people and social distancing becomes a challenge. For those mostly confined to home, getting out and about should be a source of wellbeing, but it can prove the exact opposite.
With this in mind, Zeller & Moye – an architecture practice based in Mexico City and Berlin – designed a single-person outdoor structure for urban public spaces that is intended as a kind of sanctuary: open to the sky and the ground, but protected from the busy hustle and bustle of the city. Triangular in form and covered in semi-transparent mirror film, the structure – called Halo – functions also as an eye-catching, mysterious urban intervention, akin to a public artwork.
The structure comprises a demountable lightweight steel frame, wrapped in a roll of mirror film; people can enter by lifting the film off the frame at one end. Halo is 2.4m tall and creates a small internal space of 1.8 sq m. Though the mirror film ‘walls’ visually block out the surrounding area – and seek to protect the person inside from contagious coughs and sneezes – they also create a kaleidoscopic effect inside for the occupant. The structure’s openness to the sky also aims to provoke an intimate relation to the nature above, including tree canopies, birds and the sky.
The resulting contained space is ‘a personal microcosm’ or ‘refuge zone’, explains Zeller & Moye. Inside, the person can rest and recuperate, using the space to sit, lie, read or just catch their breath. The interior experience is shaped by where the structure is placed in the city – on grass, pavement, around an existing bench or even planting, creating a mini secret garden.
Zeller & Moye created and installed Halo in Mexico City, but envisage it being produced anywhere in the world. Long-term, we will hopefully not turn to architecture and design to separate us from one another – what we will need when emerging from the pandemic are safe ways to come together and connect. As a mobile, temporary urban intervention, however, Halo provides a miniature escape from the stresses of crowds and cars, restoring the city dweller’s capacity to go back out into the chaos.
Photography by Sergio Lopez