SAH 2021 : Conferences
“Repetition and Fascination in the Design of Habitat 67” – SAH 74th Annual International Conference, Montreal, Canada, Session: Habitat 67 and Postwar Architecture. Apr 14-18, 2021.
Often described by architectural theorists and historians as one of the most emblematic projects of the 1960s, Habitat 67 by Moshe Safdie challenged postwar housing design through the paradigmatic reiteration of cellular modules of prefabricated reinforced concrete. Among the young Expo 67 staff architects, Safdie obtained the housing design commission after graduating from McGill University (1961) and working for Daniel and Blanche Lemco van Ginkel on the project for Meadowvale new town (1960-62) near Toronto. Under the supervision of Daniel van Ginkel, in particular, Safdie had investigated the idea of repetition as applied to Canadian and non-Canadian models and developed a vertical, modular housing system, which he called “A Case for City Living.” He explored similar topics in the proposal for Meadowvale in which the vertical organization transformed in more detailed elaborations of massive pyramidal housing, commercial, and industrial sectors set along a transportation system.
Originated in these two projects, a similar but more articulated fascination with foreign iterative models informed the proposal for Habitat 67. Retracing Van Ginkel’s interest in African models and Safdie’s deep-rooted concern with its Northern examples, this paper examines Safdie’s fascination with the concept of repetition as part of a larger postwar movement of expansion beyond Western established practices and discourses. Through the investigation of Safdie’s thesis, his design and sources for the project of Meadowvale, and the relationship of both proposals with Habitat 67, the research challenges the idea of repetition as physical recurrence and speaks of it as a forward movement that carries knowledge between places, people, and times. Results illuminate original connections between Habitat 67 and non-Canadian traditions and disclose unexpected movements that trouble consolidated understandings of origin, exchange, and transmission as related to postwar housing design.
PS29 Habitat 67 and Post-War Architecture
12:30 – 2:40pmFriday, 16th April, 2021
For more information on the event see the dedicated website