Habitat '67

New York 1967

Puerto Rico 1968
Israel 1969
Rochester 1971
Tehran 1976
The progressive ideas that Safdie pioneered in his designs for Habitat '67, including the introduction of industrialized building methods such as assembly-line strategies and on-site construction, have never been developed to the scale that would render them viable for Safdie's original goal of providing cost-effective housing. Nevertheless, Safdie continues to explore variations on the systems he first developed for Habitat '67. Subsequent Habitat-inspired projects allowed Safdie to redress some of the structural challenges posed by Habitat. To reduce the stresses and forces on load-bearing structures, for example, Safdie explored different geometries for creating his 'box shapes,' including tetrahedrons, octahedrons, and rhombic dodecahedrons.
The use of 'prestressed' concrete, a lighter material than traditional concrete, would have allowed Safdie to build high and increase the complex's density. Taking full advantage of the site bordering the East River, Safdie planned to cantilever certain modules over the water, thereby providing high-density environments without infringing on available land.
Creating cost-effective housing in Puerto Rico was a preliminary requirement for the project. Specific strategies to lower building costs included the use of a hexagonal unit and a reduction in its weight from the standard 70-ton model to 22 tons; the simplification of structural systems (such as the elimination of elevators and the reduction of staircases); and the implementation of industrialized housing techniques in a central manufacturing plant for the mass-production of homes.
Habitat Israel was originally conceived to create mass-produced, low-cost housing for a country with a perpetual housing shortage. Safdie's original designs also promised the implementation of modernized building techniques where it was greatly needed.
While Habitat Rochester was not the only Habitat project to feature multi-level dwellings (Habitat Tehran and Habitat Puerto Rico were to have done so too), its modules had virtually the smallest surface plan of all Habitat projects. The particular configuration of modules into overlapping, perpendicular units was deliberately intended to give the illusion of a more spacious interior.
Strategies for this particular project evolved from cultural and climatic considerations indigenous to Tehran. Both of these exigencies were resolved through the inclusion of the atrium-court in the basic modular design. This feature respected the Iranian tradition of providing each home with an internal garden, while equally making this feature convertible to the seasons.

Copyright © (2001) Canadian Architecture Collection, McGill University