Habitat 67 is a model community and housing complex in Montreal, Canada designed by architect Moshe Safdie who originally conceived the idea for his master’s thesis in architecture while studying at McGill University. He then built it as a pavilion for Expo 67, the World’s Fair held in Montreal from April to October 1967.
Expo 67 was nicknamed ‘Man and his World’ and housing was one of the main themes. Habitat 67 then became a thematic pavilion visited by the thousands of visitors coming from across the globe. During the fair it was the temporary residence of the many visiting dignitaries.
Three elevator shafts direct vertical circulation throughout the complex, with elevators stopping at every fourth floor to serve pedestrian walkways. Every part of the building, including the units, pedestrian streets and elevator shafts participate as load-bearing.
The building is owned by its tenants, who formed a limited partnership that purchased the building from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in 1985.
The project was designed to integrate the variety and diversity of scattered private homes with the economics and density of a modern apartment building with modular, interlocking concrete forms defining the space.
The idea was to create affordable housing with close but private quarters, each equipped with a garden. However, due to the building’s architectural cachet, demand for the units has made them more expensive than originally envisioned.
At the time, the building was believed to illustrate the new lifestyle people would have in increasingly crowded cities around the world.
Habitat 67 in 1967
Images courtesy Bill Cotter.
Habitat 67 in 2004/5
Images via Space 1999.