Conceived from Moshe Safdie's master's thesis and realized as a pavilion for the infamous Expo 67, HABITAT 67 aimed to intersect the urban and suburban living conditions. The project comprises of 354 prefabricated and identical units arranged to create residences at varying scales; with a goal of preserving suburban life and its amenities within highly dense urban conditions.
While HABITAT ultimately failed to reinvent urban living by being the affordable and accessible solution that Safdie had conceptualized, it still acted as a precedent that not only influenced much of his later and contemporary works, but also the architectural identity of an entire nation.
This undergraduate design studio course focused on the conceptualization of student housing solutions via the exploration of space, building typology, tectonics, and spatial organization within an urban context.
Before approaching the final project of designing a student residence, we were first guided to deconstruct and explore a selected building precedent in groups of two to determine its significance within contemporary urban discourse.
HABITAT's conceptualization is ultimately one of aggregation and scalability. Through manipulation of a single unit via rotations, offsets, and stacking, Safdie was able to ensure an outdoor terrace for each residence. Moreover, the strategy in which the units were stacked entailed each units' walls to be load bearing; which was what allowed for its radically unique form when compared to other housing developments of its time, and even today.
Despite the base unit being identical, the configuration of these units allowed for the formation of a set of varying residences. These residences could be as small as the size of a single module with a single bedroom, to that of 4 modules with 4 bedrooms; suitable for a single inhabitant or an entire family, respectively.
Only when the building is broken down to each floor does the logic of its form become understandable. The method in which Safdie conceptualized each floor makes clear the amount of open space engendered underneath these units. The bridge that appears to support the building only functions as circulation as, again, the units themselves were load bearing.