‘Halo’ is a spectacular transformation of traditional regional Islamic symbols into a graceful new urban threshold. Unifying 56m high circular portals with a 300m long toroidal arc, Halo’s sinuous curved surfaces both embrace and shade arriving visitors. At its centre, a great oculus opens to the sky. Its western portal sweeps upward to reveal an emergent landscape of flowering desert plants and trees; a new civic garden. A dynamic experience of space, time and light, Halo’s arched, ribbon-like form will capture the beauty of shadows throughout the year, trace the path of the sun and reflect the light of the moon. From afar, its uplifting, crescent-shaped silhouette poised on the horizon will give new expression to the creative spirit of a global city poised to embrace the future.
The name, ‘ هالة ’ or ‘hala’ means ‘halo around the moon’. With a different emphasis ‘hala’ also means ‘welcome’ expressing the Islamic tradition of generous hospitality to strangers, or homecoming to the city’s residents. Halo’s design, at a symbolic and experiential level, also reflects the regions profound interest in geometry and abstraction. Its form is based on a three-dimensional expansion and intersection of circles, representing both unity and the cosmos. Its oculus will offer a moment of focus, framing the sky as one passes through and directing one’s thoughts towards the universe.
Halo’s form radically transforms as one moves around it – it is a carefully balanced, horizontal crescent when seen from the desert, and a vertically sweeping calligraphic portal from the road. Its concave, circular form will produce a sense of compression and expansion when passing through. Seen obliquely from the west, its oculus becomes an infinity sign that frames the sunrise, reinforcing the gateway’s connection to the vastness of the universe. From this angle one is reminded of the first ‘h’ letter of ‘ هالة ’ – one of several calligraphies created by the gateway and its shadows.