montreal habitat 67

It has been more than a decade since Byron and Dexter Peart— identical twins and dapper darlings of the Canadian design
world—bought apartments in the Montreal housing complex Habitat 67.
In that time, they have watched the Brutalist building they call home morph from a point of reference for architecture aficionados into something like a national treasure.
In 2017, the Canadian post office honored the building with a stamp.
Shortly after, Moshe Safdie, who designed Habitat 67 when he was just a 24-year-old architecture student at McGill University,
gut renovated the top-floor apartment he owns and opened it up to tour groups.
Hardly a day goes by without the brothers noticing a curious visitor admiring the facade,
which is composed of 354 interlocking concrete blocks and has been compared to everything from
a Cubist painting to the adobe pueblos of the American Southwest.
“When something is a half century old and people are taking pictures of it every morning while you’re having your coffee
, it reminds you about the enduring potential of design done well,” Dexter says.
“That challenges us so that everything we create has to meet that crazy standard.”

Habitat was built as a pavilion at the Expo 1967 World’s Fair,

which attracted more than 50 million people to a city of around 2 million.

A residential prototype for the megalopolis of the future,

it broke the monolithic apartment building into floating cubes interspersed

with shafts of open space or elevated patios filled with herb gardens and fruit trees.

The idea was to preserve the economy of apartment living while giving city dwellers some of the airiness and greenery of a detached house.

“For everyone a garden,” as Safdie put it.

While popular among students of architecture, the building failed to usher in a new style of urban dwelling.

And although it has roots as a template for affordable housing,

Habitat—which is now a condominium—has actually become one of the more exclusive addresses in Montreal.

This is despite its relatively isolated location on a man-made peninsula in the St.

Lawrence River across from the city’s main port. Many of Habitat’s residents have retrofitted

Safdie’s original single-unit apartments by buying two or three “cubes” and linking them to create spacious, multilevel condos,

which are flooded with natural light and boast sweeping views of downtown Montreal. สถาปนิก

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