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Is the World Ready for a Habitat 67 Resurgence?

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When photos of Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie's nearly completed Sky Habitat in Singapore surfaced recently, the sight felt familiar. Indeed, with its staggered blocks, repeating balconies, and connected walkways, Sky Habitat looks like a 21st-century adaptation of Habitat 67, the radical housing scheme that put Safdie on the map in 1967. As it turns out, the 38-story Sky Habitat isn't the only Habitat 67-inspired Safdie design in the works. There's also Golden Dream Bay in Qinhuangdao, China, a cluster of 15-story buildings that feature cascading terraces. These developments, writer Karrie Jacobs argues in a new piece over on Architect magazine, signal a revival of Habitat 67's pioneering concept of creating house-like residences in dense apartment buildings—at a time when global metropolises are desperately seeking urban housing solutions.

Safdie initially developed Habitat 67 for the 1967 World Expo in Montreal. The result, striking stacks of Brutalist boxes, won Safdie multiple commissions for Habitat-type complexes in other cities, including a Habitat New York that would have looked like 50-story triangular piles of prefab volumes. However, none of those plans were realized. In an interview with Jacobs, Safdie blames it on a mix of "economics, resistance, building codes," and, perhaps most importantly, an overwhelming "recession" in urban development—in other words, a tide towards the suburbs.

But now, as cities all over the world grapple with swelling urban populations, Safdie's once-futuristic vision has become a timely proposal. Jacobs writes:

…the ideas that were so exciting to a young Safdie—like prefabrication and density—are suddenly fashionable again. Even the aesthetic that emerged from Safdie's nonlinear thinking—the word he now uses to describe it is "fractalized"—has become stylish; see Bjarke Ingels' 8 House in Copenhagen or West 57th in Manhattan. Safdie's firm is working on projects similar to Sky Habitat and Golden Bay Dream for Colombo, Sri Lanka and an undisclosed location in the Middle East—none are planned for the U.S. (yet.) Read Jacobs' full take over on Architect.

· Moshe Safdie and the Revival of Habitat 67 [Architect Magazine]
· Moshe Safdie Unveils Five-Pointed Plan for War Hero Museum [Curbed]