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Why a historic monument could be built in ten months?

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Given the fact that Habitat 67 is the materialization of Moshe Safdie's 1961 thesis and his first building. This historic monument sites in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is a very popular research ...

Given the fact that Habitat 67 is the materialization of Moshe Safdie's 1961 thesis and his first building. This historic monument sites in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is a very popular research subject. After plain technical description, in order to avoid babbling with inadequate scientific ground in terms of architectural design, construction methodology, environment planning, project management, etc., I chose to narrate it through humanistic perspective after visiting the premises in person.

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Why a historic monument could be built in ten months? Why a historic monument could be built in ten months? Document Transcript

  •   The Historic Monument that Built in ten months – Habitat 67 Anne Lam December 2, 2011   1  
  •   Table  of  Contents   First Part .....................................................................................................................................................   Architecture Identification ................................................................................................................................   Description ............................................................................................................................................................   History....................................................................................................................................................................   Modifications ........................................................................................................................................................   Second Part.................................................................................................................................................   Surveying ...............................................................................................................................................................   Third Part ...................................................................................................................................................   Conclusion .............................................................................................................................................................   Reference.....................................................................................................................................................   Appendix 1 - Illustration .........................................................................................................................     Appendix 2 – Images of Habitat 67 .......................................................................................................   2.1 Inventory of Habitat 67 (Canadian Architecture Centre’s Archive; CAC) ..............................................   2.2 Case Study 1 as of 2001 (showing interior condition)................................................................................   2.3 Case Study 2 as of 2001   (CAC website) ..............................................................................................   2.4 Case Study 3 as of 2001   (CAC website) ..............................................................................................   2.5 Case Study 4 as of 2001   (CAC website) ..............................................................................................   2.6 Bathroom at 1967 (top); .................................................................................................................................   Kitchen at 1967 (bottom) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) .......................................................................   2.7 Dinning Room at 1967 (top left); Living Room at 1967 (bottom left) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ...............................................   2.8 Living Room at 1967 (top left and bottom left) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ..................................   2.9 Living Room at 1967 (top left and bottom left) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ..................................   2.10 Living Room at 1967 (top left); Dinning Room at 1967 (bottom left) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) Error!  Bookmark  not  defined.   2.11 Open Kitchen at 1967 (top left); Living Room (bottom left) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) .............................................................   2.12 Private Terrace at 1967 (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ........................................................................   2.13.1 – 2.13.7 Renovated Interior of Apartments at 2011    (Globe & Mail website) ...................................   2.13.8 Renovated Interior of Apartments at 2011    (Robert Stephen Lefebvre website) ...............................   2.14 Exterior at 1967 (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue)....................................................................................   2.15.1-2.15.6 View at Habitat 67’s exterior at 2004 (Expo 67 official website) ..........................................   2.16 Pedestrian Streets at level 6 and 10 (top); ..................................................................................................   Elevator Tower (bottom)  (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue)......................................................................   Appendix 3 - Images of Construction ...................................................................................................   3.1-3.1.1 Construction Site  (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue)...........................................................................   3.2 Assembly of A Reinforcing Cage (top right);..............................................................................................   Completed Module Being Moved out (bottom right); ................................................................................   Prior Pouring of Concrete (bottom left) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ...............................................   3.3 Module Fabrication Plant (top); ....................................................................................................................   Complete Reinforcing Cage as Housing Module was Moving into the Prepared Mould (bottom) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ....................................................................................................................   3.4 Complete Prefabricated Cast with Reinforcement (Expo 67 official website)......................................   3.5.1 Reinforced Cast inside the Mould (Expo 67 official website) ..............................................................   3.5.2 Transferring of Prefabricated Housing Module   (Expo 67 official website) ........................................     2  
  •   3.5.3 Lifting of Prefabricated Housing Module  (Expo 67 official website)..................................................   3.6 Insulated with Foam Boards (top);................................................................................................................   Waterproofed the Roof with Neoprene (bottom) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) .................................   3.7 Erection of Module (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ...............................................................................   3.8 Placing of a Piece of Pedestrian Street (top left);........................................................................................   Assembly of Staircase Tower (top right);...........................................................................................................   Post-Tensioning of a Concrete Module (bottom left); ......................................................................................   Fiberglass Shaft (bottom right) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ....................................................................   3.9.1-3.9.4 Maintenance at Habitat 67  (CAC website) .....................................................................................   Appendix 4 - Photographs.......................................................................................................................   4.1 Viewing Habitat 67 from De La Concorde ..................................................................................................   4.2 Viewing Habitat 67 from North of 2600 Avenue Pierre-Dupuy ...............................................................   4.3 Within Habitat 67 ............................................................................................................................................   4.4 Further down Habitat 67 on Mackay Pier ....................................................................................................   Appendix 5 – Plans....................................................................................................................................   5.1 Layout of Habitat 67  (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue)...............................................................................   5.2 Cross Section Showing Mechanical & Electrical Distribution (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) ........   5.3 Cross Section (CAC website) .......................................................................................................................   5.4 Modular Arrangement (Top); ........................................................................................................................   Elevation of Street and Typical section with post-tensioning (bottom) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) .....................................................................................................................   5.5 Enlarged Basic Relationship of Boxes with Roof Slabs, Planters and Typical Post-Tensioning (CAC Website) .................................................................................................................................................   5.6 Post-Tensioning Detail of Box Connections (centre) (Expo 67 Exhibition Catalogue) .........................   5.7 Roof Plan   (CAC website)......................................................................................................................   5.8 Staircase Tower   (CAC website) ............................................................................................................   5.9 Elevator Cores – Level 9 & 10   (CAC website) .....................................................................................   5.10 Pedestrian Street   (CAC website).........................................................................................................   5.11 Erection Phase I A   (CAC website).........................................................................................................   5.12 Erection Phase I B & I C   (CAC website) .............................................................................................   5.13 Erection Phase II A & II B & II C   (CAC website)................................................................................   5.14 Contributors to the development of Habitat 67 (Expo 67 Exhibition catalogue) ..................................   Appendix 6 – Others.................................................................................................................................   Appendix 6.1 – Habitat 67 as a Historic Monument .........................................................................................   Appendix 6.2 – Habitat 67 Restoration Program Approved on June 18, 2009 ..............................................   Appendix 6.3 – Habitat 67 Property Assessment Roll......................................................................................   Appendix 6.4 – Habitat 67 site.............................................................................................................................     3  
  •   First Part Architecture Identification Current Name/previous Name: Habitat 67 Cities or municipalities: Montreal, Quebec, Canada Address: 2600 Avenue Pierre-Dupuy Cadastral number: 1 853 993 Owner: Present - La Societe En Commandite Complexe D’Habitation 67 Inc. Interim - January 31, 1986 sold to Mr. Pierre Heafey for CAD $7.17M; Habitat 67 resident bought back at CAD $9.35 million in 3 weeks of time Original - Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (Federal Agency) Residence Number: Description   Type: 146/8 (unofficial) 157 (official on City property assessment roll) Prefabricated Housing Modules by Reinforced Concrete Dimensions: Length – 4 city blocks Width - 300 feet Height - 120 feet Physical description: In brief, the architecture is pyramidal in shape, and consists of three clusters of rectangular modules (Appendix 5.1). The architecture has 354 pre-casted concrete boxes in total, with each module measures 38’6” x 17’6” x 10’. The architectural design is 13 levels in height that including 10 levels of apartments, ground level, underground parking level and building services at lowest level (see Appendix 5.2). From outlook, straight line defines the module (see Appendix 2.14), the apartment, the building and the architecture. There is no visible contour line or curve in the structure of Habitat 67, unless the mechanical and electrical shaft is taking into consideration (see Appendix 3.8 bottom right). This low-density population residential area along the St. Lawrence River constitutes an extreme spacious, quiet, and peaceful living environment as compared with other residential areas in Montreal (see Appendix 2.15.1-2.15.6). Vertical positioned module(s) placed on top of horizontal module(s) (see Appendix 5.4 top) results in nineteen different models of apartments, which varying in size between one to eight cubes. The apartment size   4  
  •   spanning over one to four floors ranges from 624 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft., and the private landscaped terrace size varies from 225 to 1,000 sq. ft. (see Appendix 2.12 & 2.15.2). For most units, the sinking duplex design has enable a private terrace in front of each apartment yet ensure the protection of privacy (see Appendix 2.8 top left, 2.9 top left, 2.13.6-7 & 2.15.6). Sitting side by side (see Appendix 5.1), three 10-storey high buildings conclude the architecture of Habitat 67. With more modules lay in the lower portion (level 2-6), majority of the residents reside in that part of the architecture. The higher the level (level 7-12) of the architecture the less people residing, for less apartments were erected and resulted in a larger apartment size in that portion. Structurally, these building apartments are connecting by two semi-covered outdoor pedestrian streets at the level 6 and level 10 (see Appendix 2.16 top), together with lobby areas at level 2. Furthermore, two elevators (see Appendix 2.16 bottom) in each building are serving the levels of underground garage, 1st floor, 2nd floor, 6th floor and 10th floor respectively. The front of the buildings are facing east (true bearing) towards South Shore, whereas the back of the buildings are facing west (true bearing) towards Montreal island/Mont Royal. History   Habitat depicts the same meaning in both English and French, the idea was created by Jean-Louis Lalonde, an architect representing the Canadian cement companies in Expo 67. Jean-Louis Lalonde was also the contributor to obtain the donation for the first feasibility study of structural materials in December 1963. The background story of Habitat 67 started from the consideration of a housing exhibit within the 1967 World Exhibition (Alias Expo 67). In order to commemorate Canada’s hundredth birthday in 1967, a major international exhibition was decided to hold at Montreal. Sandy van Ginkel, guru of Moshe Safdie (Safdie), was appointed as director of planning for Expo 67, and invited Safdie to work on the master plan. Safdie accepted the invitation on conditions that a housing system exhibit could be developed within Expo, and had time off to develop the housing system exhibit during the project. These conditions turned out to be the incubator for Habitat 67. Through the building of Habitat 67, Safdie’s 1961 thesis (McGill University) was materialized. During that time, the economic environment for research and development of city architecture was rigid; Montreal skyline in downtown was mainly lined with predictable boxy building. About these high-density housing system and living environment, Safdie’s paper hypothesized a solution with a cellular, three-dimensional modular housing system. His architectural planning was conglomerated inspirations from Safdie’s USA trip in 1962, where he witnessed Indian’s pueblos in the cliff of Grand Canyon; a small town sited on a hill in Taxco with walkways and stairs interconnecting each housing unit as a unit; and also Haifa (Israel) community spirit that had nurtured Safdie’s childhood. At the beginning of planning Expo 67, there wasn’t even any budget allocated for the development of the housing exhibit. The seed funding of CAD$20,000 for the feasibility study in structural material for the housing exhibit was even a donation from Canadian cement companies involved in Expo 67. In December 1963, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Federal Agency in Ottawa decided to back the proposition, the motion was based on the rationale that the housing exhibit of Expo 67 would advance Canadian architecture trend 15-20 years ahead. The housing exhibit on Mackay Pier symbolized Expo 67 leaking back to the harbour territory. As a result, the Montreal port manager, Guy   5  
  •   Beaudet, initiated the extension of St Helen Island and Notre-Dame Island in order to prevent Expo 67 infrastructure getting into the harbour. Serendipitously insisted by Safdie to include the architectural design of the housing exhibit on the master plan of Expo 67, the housing exhibit became official approved while Parliament stamped the Expo 67’s master plan on December 20th, 1963. Hence, the royal endorsement of land use surpassed the National Harbours Board authority, and counteracted the resistance of National Harbours Board to have any permanent structure built on Mackay Pier during Expo 67. Nevertheless, the counteract proposal eventually led to the avant-garde urban planning of Expo 67, and the unique location of Habitat 67 nowadays. Theoretically, the start of Habitat 67 project could trace back to February 1962, while Safdie was working for van Ginkel on a preliminary master plan presuming the commission of an exhibition. On that plan, Safdie designed a housing exhibit as the central feature of the three sites of the exhibition on Mackay Pier. Eventually, for project management concerns Safdie was fired from the company of 1967 World Exhibition (alias Expo 67) in order to quit his involvement in building Expo 67, and started the project development for the housing exhibit - Habitat 67; therefore, Expo 67 became Safdie’s client. Construction for the architecture was started on April 7, 1966, while the 1st prefabricated housing unit erected in place. Ending of construction for the buildings was on February 28, 1967, while the last precasted housing unit hoisted. In sum, Habitat 67 was erected in 10 months and 21 days in totality on Northern end of Mackay Pier on the manmade peninsula of Cite du Havre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 32 months in total of the duration from preliminary planning of housing exhibit in August 1964 to the grand opening on April 27, 1967 for Expo 67. These period also covered the land reclamation on Mackay Pier for the construction site (Appendix 3.1 – 3.1.1) and the building of the 180 ft. x 250 ft. precast concrete plant (Appendix 3.3 top) on the site, casting the housing modules (Appendix 3.2), fitting the housing modules, erection of the housing modules, mechanical and electrical touching up of the modules and furnishing. All the housing modules, the pedestrian streets sections, the elevator cores (Appendix 5.9), the staircases (Appendix 5.10) and members were all casted in the precast concrete plant. The reinforced cage (Appendix 3.3 bottom, 3.4, 3.5.1), casted with pre-mixed concrete would cure in the mould in a period of 10 hours by steaming the covered mould at 170° F (Appendix 3.3 bottom). Then the housing modules were transferred (Appendix 3.5.2, 3.5.3) to an assembly line on the construction site for installation of flooring, window, mechanical and electrical installation including heating and air-conditioning conduct, (Appendix 3.6), prefabricated fiberglass bathroom, pre-assembled kitchen, etc. As a result, 95% of the total construction works manage to complete at the assembly line on construction spot before erection. At final stage, giant cranes (Appendix 3.5.2-3.5.3, 3.7, 3.8) were used to deploy the housing modules according to the modular arrangement (Appendix 5.4), plan of posttensioning box connection (Appendix 5.6) and erection plans (see Appendix 5.11-5.13). Safdie accounted the successful development of Habitat 67 in “Beyond Habitat by 20 Years” (Safdie, 1987) to the youth, enthusiasm and devotion from the professionals and crews involved in the project. In addition, Expo 67 then being a young company without hierarchy was regarding as one of the prime factors to enable Habitat 67’s completion in such a short period of time. Ever since the development of a housing exhibit, it had been a very controversial subject. While Habitat 67 was developing on paper, the debate issues range   6  
  •   from the budgeting, land’s approval, project management, architectural design, structural design, mechanical engineering, building material, construction/building, furnishing, maintenance and ownership, the list was endless. Nonetheless, the significance of Habitat 67 in experimental urban residential complex and contemporary architecture is clearly beyond dispute. Quebec Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women designated the architecture as a historic monument on March 27, 2009. This designation signified the importance of Habitat 67 in the history of Montreal urban development, architectural development and building technology. Also, the maintenance and preservation of Habit 67 is guaranteed in the near future. The parties involved in the development of the Habitat 67 (see Appendix 5.14): Architect: Moshe Safdie & David, Barott, Boulva Structural Consultant: Dr. August E. Komendant Structural Engineer: Monti, Lavole, Nadon Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Huza-Thibault & Nicholas Fodor & Associates Landscape Architects: Harper-Lantzius Consortium Construction Manager: Mr. Cipriane Da Re Constructor: Anglin-Norcross Quebec Ltd. Precasting Contractor: Francon Ltd. Recalled that Safdie 1961’s master thesis being a cellular, three-dimensional modular housing system as a solution for high-density housing and environment. Therefore, the architectural design and building technology for the housing exhibit of Expo 67, Habitat 67, was revolved around this theme. Throughout the period of feasibility study, different building materials from different companies had been evaluated, in order to find the suitor for building the Habitat 67, eventually the architect reluctantly gave way to concrete for its characteristics suitable for the prefabricating manufacturing of housing module. After much planning, designing and hammering the building technology, Dr. Komendant and Safdie decided on the prefabricated housing module with the wall as loaded bearing as the mechanical engineering direction. Back in early 1965, when Dr. Komendant validated the feasibility of this building technology, the criticism and skepticism were in the air. For load-bearing in the architectural design of Habitat 67 means the housing modules erected on top of one another, each module would carry the majority loading through walls and piers, units are connected to each other by post-tensioning, high-tension rods, cables and welding, forming a continuous suspension system. A portion of the loading transmitting from the housing modules are diverted to the horizontal outdoor pedestrian streets, which are ten feet high girders with mechanical services embedded within, and supports by the elevator stair cores and columns (Appendix 5.5). The precast concrete sections of the pedestrian street connecting by high tensile cables serves as a suspension structure, within the longest street section there are 28 high tensile cables in total (Appendix 5.10). Modifications   In general, Habitat 67 is very much intact in the exterior for the past 44 years. Neither extension has been built, nor major modification has been made to the architectural design since 1967. Except unit 21x, even though the modification is hardly noticeable for any outsider of Habitat 67. The Owner, Mr. Kwok, being an mechanical engineer had not only altered the exterior of his apartment by punctuated the rooftop for 2 skylights, but also   7  
  •   changed the glass windows, removed the partitioned walls, changed the position of the staircase in his apartment and raised the decks in the terrace (see Appendix 2.3). Another small change is the addition of solarium, which is permitted by the building structural committee in a later date. Most of the units on the top floors have covered the open terraces with tractable canopy or solarium. These additions do not obstruct the view or change the outlook of the architecture from the street level and the aerial view, instead it had put a tint of colour among the grey boxes. Most important, the adding of canopy or solarium was permitted by the Habitat 67 Co-op structural committee, since there is no effect on the building’s structure. From the construction period in 1966, the development of living standard, science and technology soared in the past 4 decades. Living standard wise, the original fiberglassmoulded bathroom and fitted kitchen were the parts being modified the most. Nevertheless, there are some owners purposefully retained the interior in its original condition. For instance, being an India government delegation to Expo 67, a tenant has been one of the 26 original tenants since the period of Expo 1967. Her installation of dishwasher, washer and dryer units were the only alteration she did to her apartment, the rest of the appliances are original supplied by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation from the day one of her occupancy (see Appendix 2.4). Although some owners completely renovated their apartments (see Appendix 2.13.12.13.8) Safdie inclusive, some owners purposely kept the apartment in original condition without any modification and alteration. For example, Safdie’s apartment units, 1011 and 1012, which were both classified as historic monuments. In unit 1011, Safdie first raised his family there back in 1967, and he purposely kept its original condition. Inside this apartment all the original features are still in place, from light switches to bathroom fixtures, despite the fact that Safdie does not live there anymore, and rents it out to a young couple (see Appendix 2.5 -2.12). Furthermore, some housing modules have been combined to form a bigger apartment by an opening through the connected walls between the housing modules. Safdie’s another apartment, unit 1012, is the largest unit in Habitat 67. Unit 1012 has 8 modules spanning into 4 levels of 5,000 sq. ft. living area. Amongst the 4 floors are 16 rooms: 5 bedrooms, snooker room, 2 solariums, 2 patios, etc. (see Appendix 2.2.1-2.2.4). For each modification, the process of evaluation by the structure committee is long and winding, but it did not intimidate the owner’s desire to personalize their residence.   8  
  •   Second Part Surveying   While recalled the vivid memory in 2008 of those Ontario architecture students’ faces beamed with excitement for being able to visit Habitat 67, by and by on Sunday, September 25, 2011 I happily strolled down Pont de La Concorde (Appendix 4.1) from St. Helen Island to Habitat 67 on Mackay Pier (Appendix 4.2), and could not hold my feeling of the same kind of excitement. With the courtesy of Habitat 67 Co-op, I am honour to have a guided tour given by a resident, who has lived in Habitat 67 for 30 years, and was able to go inside this renowned architecture for a first-hand experience of its greatness. Otherwise with the strict security measure of Habitat 67, I was definitely not able to visit this prestige building causally as an outsider. By the time, I stayed after the tour to draw the architecture, the tour guide had to summon the security, and briefed them about my granted permission from the chair of Habitat 67 Co-op to draw or take picture for my research. Once I entered the building through level 2 main lobby, I sensed something very Zen. From the open the spaces resulted from architectural structure (Appendix 4.3) rays of lights entered the architecture from different angles. The environment within the architecture was as tranquil as a placid lake. The noise from the outside traffic, the heat from the steaming weather, or simply speaking the huzzling and buzzling of reality had completely been obstructed. 7 years after I relocated from Toronto, at the premises of Habitat 67 I found my serenity in Montreal. The density of the concrete in Habitat 67 is beyond the Montreal civilian’s imagination, given Montreal has a nick-name called ‘City of Pot-holes’. The concrete above and below is so dense that the noise and the heat is completely blocked. Also, the humidity is very pleasant, especially for an Asian, the concrete has trapped the moisture in the air at a very comfortable level. I experienced some kind of metaphysical phenomena beyond my knowledge. Before the guided tour, the only knowledge that I knew about the architecture at that time was Habitat 67 being built in the year of 1967 World Exhibition in Montreal, and it is made of concrete and contemporary style in design. On the narrow strip of land for the Mackay Pier sites only Habitat 67 and two contemporary architectures in addition to the Harbour Authority (Appendix 4.4), the next residential area would be miles away was my first perception. Habitat 67’s exterior looks exactly the same from the pictures circulate online or on their official website (www.habitat67.com), seeing it from picture and experiencing it personally is a completely different story. Habitat 67 completely violated the normal sense of uniform layout of a residential building. Everything is grey and geometrical (Appendix 2.14, 4.2, 4.3). Sporadic patches of green or floral signs from the terraces in front of the apartment, and garden in front of the building could be seen as the riot of the monotonous grey and straight lines among the massive space resulted from the extreme low population density. Without doing any background reading of the architecture I lost in the first impression it rendered (Appendix 4.3). During the brief visit, the concept and layout of this architecture is beyond my comprehension. My tour-guide is very proud of his building, and his wise decision back in 1980 to acquire a two-module apartment in Habitat 67 instead of the suburb, even though his ownership being co-op. Through the tour I could sense his passion, devotion and obligation towards this magnificent architecture. He announced that Habitat 67 has been the research subject of National Research Council of Canada since 1967, from time to time there would be researchers from the council coming to the premises. Similar to a small child showing off his   9  
  •   favourite toy, he led me walking up and down the pedestrian street to various levels. Later on during my research, I realised our tour route was completely different from the exhibition path in Expo 67 (Appendix 5.1). In 1967, Habitat 67 as a thematic pavilion the exhibition path was horizontally across the interconnected main lobby on level 2 from Block 3 to Block 1, this route barely scratched the surface of the architecture. Whereas on the day of my visit, the guide conducted the tour in a vertically manner, we started walking around level 2, took the elevator going up to level 6 and level 10, then came back down by stairs to level 9 and level 5 (Appendix 4.3). In this manner, I had a close encounter of the architecture, from the modular arrangement within the building, the terraces to the entrance. From the level 10 of the building on the pedestrian street, we witnessed the surfer on St. Lawrence rapid, beautiful scenery of St. Lawrence River, St. Helen Island and South-Shore, besides openly peeped into the private terraces on level 9 which locate in front of the apartments’ entrances. Those magnificent views are the scene the residents enjoy day in and day out. Given that concrete could crumble through time, the condition of this architecture is very well maintained (Appendix 3.9.1-3.9.4), normal wear and tear could observe in large public area during my visit, i.e. a crack appears on the floor of level 2 main lobby in block 1. There was no patching on the wall of Habitat 67. While absorbing the lecture of tour, I cannot fail to notice there being obvious line on each wall of the concrete modules. The active crack is horizontal from wall to wall, and 12 inches away from the bottom of each module, this line marks the end of the reinforcement on each prefabricated module (Appendix 4.3 first row). Regardless, I was amused by the perfect workmanship of the architecture, especially the troweling, without knowing then from the housing module, pedestrian street, staircase, and elevator core, everything was prefabricated. At one point, I rubbed my hand on one concrete wall, and felt a different material density compared to the Concordia University EV building bare concrete column on 9th floor. The EV’s concrete slab is full of holes from air bubble and pebble, but Habitat 67’s concrete feels very dense and pack. For Habitat 67, 44 years of age is just the beginning. Apart from the angularity, the housing modules could consider surreal in perception, the phenomenon of apartment and the pedestrian street floating in the air (Appendix 4.3) look surreal. One module stacks perpendicular on top of another module, or next to another module. Never imagined that I would be fooled by my own vision, looking at the part that protruded and missed the hidden stationed base. The architectural design of Habitat 67 is very interesting, because it ensured each unit would have a private terrace in front of the entrance. At most units entering from the main entrance and descending to the main floor area is facilitated by the 3-feet width staircase (Appendix 2.2-2.4, 2.13.1). The resident either climb one flight of stair to the entrance then go down one level to the public area, or enter directly the entrance through the public area then go down one level for living area. If not because of a resident exiting from his apartment entrance, and came down the staircase to level 2, I would not notice this unique design and missed also the circular shaft positioning far behind. The shaft contains all mechanical and electrical piping, and is the only thing in Habitat that being not angular. Since both the tour guide and me being layman in architecture, the tour-guide tried his very best efforts in layman term to convey the ideas of a sunken duplex/triplex, concrete box with reinforcement, load bearing and pyramidal structure without even entering inside the apartment. Apparently, this was hard on me in the tour. After intensive research, 2 months after my guided-tour in Habitat 67, I finally comprehended the architectural design that the tour guide showed me on spot. Also, I fathomed his intention for showing me not only the architectural design, but the structural   10  
  •   mechanism on different levels. His love for this exclusive architecture has stimulated his volunteer in showing the building. To love is to show but not hide. After the tour, I was amazed about the thoughtfulness in the architectural design. The architect thought of every detail to create a comfortable living environment in a concrete building, from private terrace, window layout, HVAC to the dryer outlet embedded in the concrete (Appendix 4.3 second row). For protection of privacy, I could not go inside the apartment to experience the living condition and lighting effect narrated by the tour guide (Appendix 2.7-2.10). But the window by Clerk (Appendix 5.14), which is the best in North America, is still in prime condition after 44 years. Central air-condition and heating is another distinct feature of Habitat 67 from 1967. The boiler and the cooler sited in the second building basement, through centralized piping system the cool air and heat reach all apartment units accordingly. According to the guide, with the HVAC system deteriorated through time, the system efficiency needs improvement. Nowadays, the cool air is 8 degree Celsius coming out of the central cooler, by the time the cool air reached the tour-guide’s apartment it has raised up to 15 degree Celsius. Yet he pays $1600 for his condominium fee each month, since he has 2 units and it is $800 per unit monthly. Furthermore, the resident recently contributed extra funding to replace 6 coolers, and it had been vandalized all at once after its installation. One thing worth mentioned being the poplar trees, it thickly lined the east shore opposite the main entrances of each block. After dumping millions tons of rock to the east of the land lot for the formation of a river embankment, Safdie tried to improve the environment by sprayed seed in vain. Then the nature took up his unfinished job, and let the poplar grown abundantly in time. The poplar trees are not original planned in the landscaping design, it neither provide acoustic to the sound of the running water in St. Lawrence, nor blocked the surfer of St, Lawrence rapid to look through the wired fence into the building. Nevertheless, with the poplar at the east side of Habitat 67, the living environment becomes even more peaceful, and the east shore has a micro-climate to its own as per Dr. David Suzuki. The tour-guide also confirmed that in winter the east side of the building is warmer than the west side. This information was completely violated my assumption that in deep winter the side facing the open water would be colder than the side facing inshore to Montreal. Life does not always go the way planned! With all the above-mentioned unique characteristics of this architecture, one could easily understand why incident keep happening to Habitat 67. The unique building outlook not only attracted quite a number of extreme-sport lovers to jump off the apartment from the top level to the ground, but the property’s trespassers range from uninvited visitors, burlgars to Chinese tourist groups. As a result, the security guards not only patrol frequently, fend off the trespassers to visit this famous architecture, but also have to catch the extreme-sport lovers besides of thieves and vandals. The tired never get rest.   11  
  •   Third Part Conclusion As an admirer of architecture, my personal inclination is usually towards classical and refined style, i.e. Roman, Rococo, etc., but the picture of Habitat 67 seized my attention from day one I browsed it online. When I chose Habitat 67 as a research subject for my paper, I was just fascinated by its unique building outlook compared with the boxy building in Montreal. Upon granting of approval by Dr. Jean Belisle to write about Habitat 67, I still have no idea what it would imply to my personal growth. Given the fact that this first building of Safdie is a very popular subject for research, there must be hundreds researches conducted before my writing. Also, my limited knowledge in architecture and construction would result in a paper of babbling with no scientific ground. So, I chose to narrate the architecture through humanistic perspective in pictures and photographs in order to avoid confining by technical term and phrase while and babbling without points. In the beginning of the research, I noticed that the general information on Habitat 67 usually focused on Moshe Safdie’s age, his presentation to Parliament at age 25, and materialization of his 1961 master thesis, monument of Expo 67, etc. From the surface structure of meaning, I merely considered Habitat 67 as a housing exhibit in 1967, and an architecture flows in the air since Expo 67. However, some of my questions remained unanswered. Why Moshe Safdie? What kind of city planning or urban development plan had led to the development of Habitat 67 in that man-made peninsula of Cite du Havre? Why there is no further development in the area of Mackay Pier except the Tropical Nord, the Profil O, and the Harbours Authority? Why the population density of the building and zoning is so low? The story of Habit 67 is beyond my horizon of knowing the dynamic among the federal agency, provincial agency and municipality government body in the development of Habitat 67. It is beyond my awareness that Habitat 67 is a system in itself and not merely a standalone architecture. After 2 months of research and studies, I start appreciating Habitat 67 from a very different angle, and gaining the answer to my questions. Habitat 67 as a permanent thematic pavilion of Expo 67, it provides a vivid evidence of alternative to confront the suburb development concept in North American since the Second World War. Habitat 67 at Citédu-Havre, together with St. Helen Island and Notre-Dame Island, become an icon in the Montreal city landscape and part of Montreal’s public image. The building’s relationship with the surrounding environment is one of the reasons I felt for Habitat 67 from head to toe, while I first visited in person. The avant-garde architecture proposes a different type of urban habitat within the city by three-dimensional prefabricated housing modules and reinforcedconcrete construction system. For Habitat 67, the conception of living environment, building structure, establishment construction and architectural design are one and inseparable. The development of Habitat 67 is a story about individual goodwill turned into motion, then ultimately materialized into a timeless monument and marked a place in Canadian architecture history (Appendix 6). It is not only an avant-garde building project for Expo 67, but also a story about youth, trust, confidence, self-reflection, team-work, code of ethic, personal commitment, human nature, efficiency without bureaucracy and an objective larger than any individual in life. Safdie depicted in full details about the whole story behind   12  
  •   the Habitat 67 in his book “Beyond Habitat by 20 Years” (Safdie, 1987). The twist and turn of the story about the project development was within apprehension, but the energy, strength, stamina, commitment, dedication and obligation that Safdie and the whole team felt for the project is very inspiring. Serendipitously, the empowered team could deliver the project by the allotted small budget and tight timeframe, because Expo was a young corporation with hierarchy still in development back then. Otherwise, these team of professional youth might not be able to cut the red-tape and bureaucracy, (Safdie, 1987, p.74, 76, 77), fought against the foreign expatriates to protect the project (Safdie, 1987, p. 69-70), and finished construction of the building within 10 months. Through the development of Habitat 67, from idea conception to construction, there were numerous unsung hero and stories revealed the highest form of humanity. Afterall, it were not only the brilliant architectural design, breath-taking mechanical engineering, the peaceful living environment that seized my admiration, but also the people behind this avantgarde project that touched my heart. For van Ginkel, his appreciation and recognition of Safdie’s talent was admirable and respectful. Ginkel first sent Safdie’s thesis for publication, then invited Safdie to develop the master plan for Expo 67, besides of allowed Safdie to work on the housing exhibit. Without Ginkel, Safdie may or maynot stand a chance in the history of Canadian architecture. The meticulous calculation in mechanical engineering was completed by Dr. Komendant manually, his work not only puzzled lots of engineering professionals, but also depicted some kind of devotion, commitment and obligation towards the project and Safdie. In return, Safdie gave 100% loyalty and commitment to Dr. Komendant, which never switched an inch even under the pressure from the Expo 67’s management. Safdie’s strong sense of ethic, devotion and communal spirit in his practice clearly demonstrated through the development of Habitat 67. Especially, when the Cabinet decided to reduce the funding and the scale of the project. Safdie considered the decision irresponsible to the resident going to live in Habitat 67, because the small number of population implied there would be no amenity to support them. At one point, he even refused to continue with the project, but at the end he surrendered on the condition that the whole area be permanently classified as residential zone, which was served as a final strike to protect the community (Safdie, 1987, p.89-90). Without knowing this low dense residential area evolved into prestige property area, which is high in demand and very limited in supply. Unfortunately, the copy of “Beyond Habitat by 20 years – special anniversary edition” that I borrowed as reference from Concordia University’s library bears a condition contradicted the writer’s moral principles. Besides of the whole book is marked in pen, highlighter, and pencil from various period of time, there also had few editorial pages cut off by blade, then two pages being taped back loosely. As a result, one page went missing from this popular book, and yet nobody reported to the library for replacement. I boldly assumed if Habitat 67 project is to be delivered nowadays by the self-centered ‘Me generation’, it would not materialize to any extent at all, or be able to delivery in 10 months of time. Habitat 67 classified as a historic monument on March 27, 2009 by Quebec Minister of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women. Amazingly, Habitat 67 is only 44 years old! For an architecture to be designated as a historic monument with less than 100 years of history, the significance of this architecture is indisputable in terms of architectural value, social contextual value, urban development and symbolic icon. And this architecture was built only in 10 months. Habitat 67 deserves every moment of this classification.   13  
  •   Imagining the happiness and proudness that the tour-guide felt upon knowing this designation, while I shared the same happiness here. As a fan of heritage architecture, I am glad that Habitat 67 has restoration program established by Montreal city by-law (Appendix 6.2) to enable this architecture continue to erect on the site of Mackay Pier, to acknowledge its significance in Canadian architectural development, and to allow the story behind the construction of Habitat 67 to be told forever and ever. Lived in 8 different cities in my life, and Montreal is the 9th. Nevertheless, my apartment in Montreal makes me very depressed. The building structure, the unit layout and the living environment of my apartment all made me feeling like a goldfish without water. Most of the buildings in Montreal, the area and angle with best view is either used as laundry room, back of the building or open car park. The architecture is not in synchronicity with the living environment. Discovery and exploration of Habitat 67 became the second biggest joy that I had experienced in Montreal, while the first one being the discovery and the exploration of Nun Island. Both Habitat 67 and Nun Island are surrounded by water and green with stunning architecture, even though both are boxy in different definition. Grew up in a very highly dense populated city with 7.12 million people, Hong Kong, I am so used to a relationship with the high-density living environment. In the guided tour of Habitat 67, I experienced once again the familiar sensation within the architecture. If my depression is related to my social economic status as a student, with more financial resource living in Habitat 67 should have rescued me from the depressive mood instantly. Also, I pondered the possibility of building Habitat 67 at a large scale in Asian cities, i.e. Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan. Given the massive and cheap construction labour comparing with North America, the available of bamboo scaffolding technique, access to world-class professional and building materials instead of prefabricated parts, Habitat in Asia might be feasible. Wish one day I could witness the building of Habitat 67 in Asia. Overwhelmed still by the whole research process, without knowing in the beginning that I would have researched a system instead of architecture. The story behind Habitat 67 had given me a brief outline of architectural design, urban planning, construction, subcontracting, project management, management style and most of all bureaucracy in project development. Too much structure or restriction would handicap the development or the progress of the project, and eliminate the morale besides of spirit. However, not enough hierarchy, rule and regulation would result in lack of discipline and order in addition to cost and time management inefficiency. The balancing between laissez-faire and authoritative would be one lesson every architect, leader, management or someone aspires to build something should have learned, me inclusive. The building that built in 10 months is a story worth telling.   14  
  •   Reference Official Habitat 67 website http://www.habitat67.com Canadian Architecture Centre’s Archive website http://cac.mcgill.ca Safdie Architects website   Official 1967 World Exhibtion website http://www.msafdie.com http://expo67.ncf.ca Safdie, M. (1987). Beyond Habitat by 20 Years – Special Anniversary Edition. Montreal: Tundra. Kohn, W. (Ed.) (1996). Moshe Safdie. London: Academy Group. Loveseed, H. (2011). Cubic feet in an iconic, modular condo. Retrieved from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-­‐and-­‐ garden/architecture/architecture-­‐features/ Murphy, D. (Ed.) (2009). Moshe Safdie II. Victoria, Australia: Image Publishing. Murray, I. (Ed.) (1996). Moshe Safdie – Buildings and Projects, 1967-1992. BlachderLauterman Library of Architecture & Art, McGill University.   15