In 1967, Montreal, Quebec held Expo 67, one of the largest and most successful World’s Fair gatherings of the 20th Century. As housing was one of the main themes of Expo 67, architect Moshe Safdie was commissioned to build a grand-scale residential complex that would first house visiting dignitaries– then the citizens of Montreal itself.
Safdie’s Habitat 67 was a true architectural masterwork in its time, providing an interconnected community of apartments that still provided their tenants with privacy and seclusion. This city within a city was a highlight of Expo 67, and has become one of Montreal’s most recognizable landmarks. Comprising a three-dimensional landscape of 354 stacked concrete “boxes”, Habitat 67 pioneered the combination of two major housing typologies – the urban garden residence and the modular high-rise apartment building. The original master plan involved over 1,000 residences, alongside shops and a school. This was scaled down to just 158 homes, forming a 12-storey complex located beside the Saint Lawrence River in the centre of the city.By utilising a variety of geometric arrangements, making use of both setbacks and voids, Safdie aimed to create a series of properties with their own identities. Each one featured its own roof garden and could be accessed from an external “street” – one of Brutalism’s key ideals.+ Habitat 67