Habitat 67 is built on a peninsula which sits on the edge of the Old Port of Montreal, Canada. When designing the concept for Habitat 67, Moshe Safdie applied one of the truest symbols of stability – the cube – to his basis. Made up of 354 cubes of brilliant greyish beige concrete, Habitat 67 forms 146 residencies almost floating, garishly in the sky. It is this garishness that finitely adds to the character of Habitat 67, also known as Habitat, along with its futuristic interiors, pedestrian streets, suspended terraces, aerial spaces and huge elevator pillars.
Moshe Safdie wanted to offer a “fragment of paradise to everyone”.
The Brunswick Centre has always fascinated me, but I’ve never actually made the effort to go and search for it in London. It just so happens that I came across it the other day after wandering through Holborn and I was seriously taken aback by the sheer size of it, I had always thought it was quite a shallow structure, but it actually towers over the central shopping area. It’s safe to say the area has come a long way from what it was in the 60’s and 70’s, but one of the most remarkable things about the revival of the Brunswick was how straightforward it turned out to be.
New Brutalism started out as an efficient style for post-war Britain – honest with its expression of materials, practical, cheap but futuristic. Unfortunately it didn’t transform Britain into a modernist paradise but instead, new brutalism became the house style for welfare architecture. For Hodgkinson the building had no such affiliation, “I didn’t hold with new brutalism, myself. I just prayed for the day we would be able to paint it.”
Patrick Hodgkinson had to create a building which was essentially two tower blocks condensed into buildings which didn’t exceed the height limit set by London County Council, his solution was to put it into two rows, leaving a shopping street in the middle. He conceived it as a modern day London village, with family homes, a cinema (The Renoir) and shops.
Its raw concrete and articulated structure put it firmly in the new brutalist school, alongside the ambitious Trellick Tower but did it ever reach the standard that Hodgkinson wanted before the revival?
Denys Lasdun’s National Theatre in London stands out to me as one of the most iconic arts buildings in the UK. With its layered concrete structure and geometric shapes, it stands on the South Bank of the River Thames, creating a beautiful contrast with nature and the man made.
Completed in 1976, The Royal National Theatre is made up of horizontal terraces, swathing the two looming concrete towers which shape the majority of the building. It creates a landscape in which is so unassuming and has been quoted as “one of the last great buildings of the age of public sector architecture”.