Habitat '67

New York 1967

Puerto Rico 1968
Israel 1969

Rochester 1971
Tehran 1976
Habitat '67's remarkable engineering achievement is also one of the building's most distinguishing and trademark features: the very modules that cantilever out of its three-part 290 metre (950 foot) spine are in fact themselves structural members. Each organ of Habitat--its dwelling units, walkways, and three sets of paired elevator shafts--acts as a load-bearing structure to the overall building. Modules were to be stacked and clustered following principles of compression and post-tensioning. This system was devised under the direction and guidance of Habitat's structural engineer, Dr. A. E. Komendant.
Following the nautical principles of a sailboat's mast and boom, light-weight modules were to be suspended within a matrix of concrete-encased cables. These cables were to have extended between the top of the structural core and a compression beam at the complex's base. Pedestrian walkways were to have originated from the core building tower, providing access to modules flanking either side of the passage.
The hexagonal modules of Habitat Puerto Rico were to be clustered in groups of 12 and stacked on top of each other in adjacent rows in honeycomb formation. Bridges were conceived to connect the various clusters. The basic shape of the hexagon presupposed that the modules would fit together as cantilevered loads. These loads were to be assembled by steel-cabled post-tensioning, thereby following the same principles of compression as seen in the original Habitat '67. A typical residence might include as many as three modules. The basic module's split-levelling was specifically designed to minimize the internal space traditionally lost to staircases. Units were to be arranged in varying configurations of one- to four-bedroom dwellings. 
The basic module of Habitat Israel was designed so as to allow maximum versatility in its assemblage. Therefore, it would have been conceivable to have hillside terracing or high-rise clusters for certain Israeli sites, and low-lying, two- and three-storey houses in others, or even units located side by side. Clusters of modules were to be stacked around a main vertical service core, and connected by pedestrian walkways. In the case of multi-levelled units, some modules were to be connected by slanting roofs. 
Modules for Habitat Rochester were to be assembled in the traditional Habitat manner, stacked and compressed in a dense cluster of residences.
Modules were to be clustered and stacked in typical Habitat fashion, following the natural incline of the Elahieh site's steep slope. At its peak, clusters of modules were to have reached 14 storeys, while the complex would have expanded outward at the hill's base, tapering into low-lying configurations of dwellings.

Copyright © (2001) Canadian Architecture Collection, McGill University