Habitat began its life as a thesis project when Safdie was a student at McGill and was built for the Montreal Expo in 1967. Highly unusual in its appearance, the project eventually caught on and is today a very desirable and exclusive place to live. But the project didn’t begin that way. Rather, it was conceived from the more egalitarian premise of creating a community that was mixed in use and habitation and built at a very high density, without the consequences that all too often accompany dense living situations. At Habitat, Safdie pioneered a construction system of prefabricated units and stacked and staggered them in an organic fashion that resulted in the project’s iconic silhouette and form. The project ushered in a new aesthetic and was a ‘one off’ structural achievement that was too expensive to ever replicate.
Commenting on the momentous occasion Safdie said, “I am very moved and honoured that Habitat 67 has been classified as a historic monument. The greatest pleasure for an architect is to see the creation alive, as a thriving community, 42 years later.”