After writing about the Cube Houses in Rotterdam a few months ago, a reader commented that they reminded her of Habitat 67, another cube-inspired housing project. I decided to look into the concept, design and current status of Habitat 67. The project was initially designed for Expo 67, the 1967 world’s fair in Montreal, where housing was one of the main themes. Moshe Safdie designed Habitat 67 while an architecture student at McGill University.
Source: Habitat 67


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Although they are visually and architecturally different, I immediately recognized the resemblance the reader had seen between the Cube Houses and Habitat 67. Habitat 67 is a community of 146 homes composed of 354 greyish cubes. It forces us to consider the cube in a new light, much as the Rotterdam Cube Houses do, and to consider the meaning behind the cube as an architectural base. While the Cube Houses turn cubes on their sides to give a sense of dynamism and movement, Habitat 67 fits them together to create a sense of stability and foundation.


Source: Canadian Architecture Collection (CAC), McGill University

The Cube Houses and Habitat 67 focus on creating a community of cubes, both overlooking ports (Habitat 67 overlooks the Old Port of Montreal, and the Cube Houses overlook the Old Port of Rotterdam). Both complexes focus inwards in many ways, with internal shared common spaces, gardens and walkways, while communicating externally with anyone who passes by. Safdie’s design was a response to the possibility of creating high-density, high-quality housing for urban environments. While he hoped to create an example of affordable housing designs, high demand has pushed up the price of the homes.


Source: Habitat 67

Like the Cube Houses, Habitat 67 is still inhabited by residents, who continue to adapt the cube homes to their lifestyles and needs. 

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