“Reinvent the Apartment Building”Moshe Safdie, early 1960s
The modernist accommodation dream of young Israeli-Canadian designer Moshe Safdie stands on a narrow piece of man-made land directly opposite the old quarter of downtown Montreal. Originally this land was created to form a protective ice break.
Designed & created for the Montreal World Fair 1967. It is one of only two remaining pavilions from the expo that saw some 50 million visitors flock to Montreal in 1967 – at the time a city of under three million population.
In 2015 a headline in the Guardian newspaper read ‘Habitat 67, Montreal’s failed dream’, mimicking a term used prevoiulsy by the Canadian magazine Walrus which referred to Habitat 67 as a ‘Failed Dream’
However, there are so many admirers of this building. Those who see it a visual statement as much today as when first built. A testament that when good design concepts are applied, public housing schemes can provide quality living spaces.
To support this – you only need look at the buildings achievements:
- It has become a very desirable inner-city address.
- It is a world renown architectural tourist attraction.
- The building was awarded heritage status in 2009.
How many state sponsored 1960’s housing complexes can boast that ?
The complex comprises of 354 cubes arranged in the Japanese post-war architectural style of ‘Metabolism’. The most famous building of this style being the Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo. Habitat 67 originally catered for 160 homes.
The main design intentions are:
- Permeable to light – allowing natural light to permeate into every unit & all spaces within the complex
- Attached to nature – each unit having access to a roof top garden. Along with several public gardens
- Community – units connected to each other by streets not corridors, and many multiuse common spaces
- Mobility – a sense of space and easy communication with views throughout the entire complex
- Moshe Safdie Ted Talk – How to Reinvent the apartment building 2014 – https://www.ted.com/talks/moshe_safdie_how_to_reinvent_the_apartment_building?language=en
- HGTV.ca – Look inside Habitat 67 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmwrx9hnCUw
- Discover Montreal – Iconic Habitat 67 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wdemf-VcDVk
- Habitat 67 official website – www.habitat67.com