Us Via Capitale bloggers search the world for unusual buildings. Yet we have a building in our own backyard that causes tourists to look twice when they come across it. We see it because it’s been part of the landscape for almost half a century: Habitat 67.
Take a look at it and you will quickly include it in the category of unusual buildings, because it really is! The architecture of cubes piled haphazardly on top of each other borders on the grotesque, somewhat like the works of Gaudi in Barcelona.
If you find the word grotesque irritating, you should know that none other than Victor Hugo once declared: “As a means of contrast with the sublime, the grotesque is, in our view, the richest source that nature can offer.”
Built as part of Expo 67, of which one of the themes was housing, Habitat 67 is a product of the era’s obsession with building vertically to respond to the growing urban density. It’s kind of a futuristic solution to coming needs.
The pavilion has been visited by thousands of people from around world. After it was used by the federal government, the complex was converted into condos in the 1980s.
According to Wikipedia, the building has 158 apartments, in fifteen different configurations, each formed from one to four units, with most of them made up of two or three. Each apartment has at least one private terrace, located on the roof of another unit. A solarium can be added to the terraces. Each unit has three orientations and offers views of the city of Montreal or the river.
The cubes are divided among twelve floors and are an integral part of the prefabricated concrete structure, which also includes three colossal elevator shafts that serve the apartments, as well as footbridges protected by Plexiglas walls, located on the 6th and 10th floors.
Construction of Habitat 67 was financed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. In 2009, it became the first modern building in Quebec to be named a historical monument.
Habitat 67 is the first work by Quebec architect Moshe Safdie, which opened the door to an international career. Habitat 67 is probably the most well-known of Safdie’s buildings around the world. It’s certainly the most spectacular.
Habitat 67 is still a symbol of Expo 67.