ARCHITECTURE | Habitat ’67 :: Moshe Safdie’s Masterpiece

LIFE PHOTOS > Henry Groskinsky

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SAFDIE MCGILL

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THE ORIGINAL VISION: 5 TIMES AS LARGE

DONALD SUTHERLAND IN HIS HIP HABITAT PAD (1977)

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LEONARD COHEN IN HIS HIP HABITAT PAD

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CBC ARCHIVES’ SAFDIE FILES:

CHECK OUT LITTLE BOXES, ADRIENNE CLARKSON’S 1967 INTERVIEW WITH SAFDIE

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CBC ARHIVES

Safdie completely captivated my mind as a child: At last, the future. Now! Habitat was a vision that was bold, innovative, and literally, “made concrete.”

His “little boxes” weren’t really that little. And every unit had a room-sized balcon (terrasse, vraiment!) on the roof of their neighbour below. It was a new type of community — boldly original and breathtaking.

Habitat ’67 ranks with Le Corbusier’s 1945 Unité d’habitation (the original one, in Marseille) as the groundbreaking vision of what urban living could be.

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LC in front of a drawing explaining his unité d’habitation de grandeur conform, literally a building “of appropriate size” SOURCE > designboom

I’m still enthralled with Habitat and make a pilgrimage to it every time I’m in Montréal.

But the promise of Montréal — arguably the most cosmopolitan place on the planet in 1967 — was not to be.

MONTRÉAL 1967: A VISION OF A CITY AS THE FUTURE

Safdie’s bold genius (he was only a student at McGill when he won the commission for his vision of pueblos stacked on the St. Lawrence) went missing from the Canadian scene for far too long.

He came back to Canada in a significant way when his National Gallery in Ottawa opened in 1988.

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The NGC is one of the most exciting places to view art that I’ve visited. The galleries are tailor-made to reflect their contents, and the public spaces are whimsical yet somehow classical at the same time. And I love how Safdie’s architectonic form riffs off the Library of Parliament across the Rideau Canal.

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Canada Post, too, likes the National Gallery (but should have chosen Habitat!):

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McGill’s Great Three Architects honoured by Canada Post, 2007

Arthur Ericson: The University of Lethbridge (1971)

Raymond Moriyama: The Ontario Science Centre (1969)

Moshe Safdie: The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1988)

But Habitat …

Will always have a place in my heart as the place where the future began and ended and where my love of architecture started.

Meanwhile …

It took the Japanese just a couple of more years to figure out how to really stack ’em in:

CAPSULE HOTEL GINZA

designKULTUR > ARCHITECTURE | Capsule Hotels :: Tiny, Tiny Houses of the Future

Meanwhile …

Here’s a great recycle of an image of the masterpiece:

Afternoons in Stereo – Habitat 67

Afternoons In Stereo - Habitat 67

Just the perfect groove for Donald Sutherland’s hip Habitat pad.

FOR SALE! | 2600 Pierre Dupuy, 611: Montreal Habitat 67 PDF

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