The Habitat ’67 Residences by Moshe Safdie – Montreal, Canada
Designed by Moshe Safdie for the 1967 World’s Fair (Expo ’67), Habitat 67 served as the temporary residence for many of the world’s visiting dignitaries. Expo ’67 has been widely regarded as the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century, with over 50 million visitors and 62 nations participating. The Habitat project began as Safdie’s master’s thesis in 1961 (then only 25 years old) where he was studying architecture at McGill University.
The Architectural Concept
The cube is the base, the mean and the finality of Habitat 67. In its material sense, the cube is a symbol of stability. 354 cubes of a magnificent grey-beige build up one on the other to form 148 residences. Integral to the sense of community Safdie sought to create at Habitat are its external walkways, called pedestrian streets, which interconnect the multi-leveled residential modules on five different storeys.
The total area of the property comprises 22,160 sq. m. (238,500 sq ft). It was commissioned by the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition. It took three years to develop (1964-67) and cost $17 million Canadian.
There are 15 model types on 12 floors varying between 1 and 8 cubes and include:
- Views on 3 sides and landscaped terraces
- Areas from 624 to 5,000 square feet, displayed over 1,2,3 or 4 floors
- Private terraces from 225 to 1,000 square feet
- Six elevators
- Central heating and air conditioning
On March 27, 2009, Habitat ’67 was given historic monument status by the Quebec Minister of Culture. The exterior of the building is now a designated heritage site, but not the interior because they are privately owned condos and it would be too difficult to maintain authenticity.