Habitat of the Future

Responding to the popular reaction to Habitat ’67, Moshe Safdie attempted to replicate the concept around the world, primarily for housing but also for other building types. These schemes used repetitive grids and modules to create structures with multiple functions and infinite flexibility that incorporated landscape and inventive circulation systems to form cities-within-cities. To gain greater structural and circulation efficiencies and lower costs than Habitat ’67, Safdie developed a wide array of options, testing different module shapes, densities (40 to 300 units per acre), structural systems (load-bearing and cable-suspension), sites (flat and hilly), unit configurations, and building heights from two to fifty stories. None of these efforts was realized. 

In light of global changes that have occurred since Habitat’s construction, Safdie and the firm have returned to research into housing and density. In 2010, in conjunction with a comprehensive architectural exhibition, Global Citizen, Moshe Safdie and collaborators examined these essential questions as part of an independent year-long research fellowship program within the office. The result of the investigation led to five theoretical housing typologies described in the essay from the exhibition catalogue. 

The conceptual underpinning of this investigation has continued to inform the work of the practice, including current projects in Singapore, China, and other locations. Many of these projects incorporate Habitat’s dramatic stepped profile, private landscaped terraces, and skywalks that contain public amenities. Conventional structural systems are also employed to lower costs, bringing the idea of prefabrication and community into the 21st century.

Complete essay available as PDF below.

Published in Practice on January 14, 2016