Date: January 21, 2020
“Habitat 67 was a 1960s experiment in dense, downtown housing that tried to combine the best of urban and suburban living. Architect Moshe Safdie wanted to integrate the qualities of a suburban home- the access to nature and views- into a high-rise. Built for the 1967 World’s Fair, Habitat 67 was also a prototype of an affordable “3D modular building system” that he hoped would “reinvent the apartment building”.
Like the Japanese Metabolism movement (see Nagakin capsule tower: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXRJE2caPNY), Habitat 67 is an interconnected web of prefabricated cells stacked so the emergent whole feels less coldly geometric and more organic.
“Habitat 67 comprises 354 identical, prefabricated concrete forms arranged in various combinations, reaching up to 12 stories in height. Together these units create 146 residences of varying sizes and configurations, each formed from one to eight linked concrete units. The complex originally contained 158 apartments, but several apartments have since been joined to create larger units, reducing the total number. Each unit is connected to at least one private terrace, which can range from approximately 20 to 90 square metres (225 to 1,000 sq ft) in size.” – Wikipedia
Originally, Safdie had aimed to create an affordable prefab system, but given the experimental nature of the project, costs reached approximately C$140,000 per unit (pricey for the 1960s). Today, the apartment owners all own shares in the building. Long-time resident George Boynton helped instigate changing the status of the complex from government-owned apartment building to a private Limited Partnership Complex. He gave us a tour of the 10-story building and a walk-through of Mosha Safdie’s newly-renovated apartment.
Habitat 67 tours:
Not so sure I’d do well with the open heights…but, this is still awesome.
Nakagin: 140 plug n’ play capsules float in metabolist tower:
“Resembling clusters of space pods stacked 13 stories tall, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is the world’s first example of capsule architecture. When erected in 1972, tiny prefab apartments were stacked like LEGOs (by crane) around a concrete core. Attached by only 4 high-tension bolts, the capsules were designed to be plugged in and replaced when necessary.
Each pod was a micro apartment measuring 4 by 2.5 meters, intended for Japanese businessmen who wanted to avoid a long commute home. Everything came built-in: a bed, a sink, a refrigerator, bathroom, folding desk and even a TV, radio and alarm clock.
Built in 1972 in Tokyo’s Ginza District, the building is one of the only remaining examples of Metabolist architecture: a movement begun in the 1960s that treated cities as dynamic, evolving organisms. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa for sustainability and recycleability, the Nakagin Tower has not been maintained and now nearly 50 years after it’s construction, many of the capsules are uninhabitable.
In 2007, when the building’s residents voted to demolish the building. Kurokawa proposed “unplugging” the worn-out units and replacing them with newer capsules (an idea supported by the Japan Institute of Architects). Kurokawa died in late 2007. Given the high rents in the Ginza neighborhood, most of the residents continue to push to replace the entire building, but an online group has organized to save the building and its fate remains unclear.
Today, a few residents like Masato Abe rent their unit outs on AirBnB. We (the faircompanies family of five) rented it for a night. In this video, Abe shows us his neighbor’s unit which is in nearly original condition and we filmed our night with the five of us sleeping in a self-contained capsule built for one.”