Moshe Safdie: “For Everyone a Garden”
Moshe Safdie rejected the “monotonous and soul-crushing architecture” of public housing. He vowed that every apartment should feel like a house, with its own garden. Branded an iconoclast, he has spent his life creating his own stunning architectural icons embracing the idea that cities should be fit to live in.
How did Moshe Safdie’s journey unfold?
Moshe Safdie’s life began with a kaleidoscopic diversity of influences that would lead him to reject restraining cultural or practical conventions. Born in Israel to a Syrian father and an English mother, the family emigrated to Canada when he was 15. This flux committed him to balance both idealistically and architecturally. He respects his Jewish and Israeli heritage, having designed memorials at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre. However, he has also designed the rebuilding of the Mamilla district of Jerusalem which he says is “among the few places where Arabs and Jews enjoy the city together.” He adds that the settlements in occupied territories “causes me great frustration and pain.” He has suffered for his iconoclasm, with his earlier, people and environmentally friendly concepts being spurned by conventional thinking.
“He rejects his daughter’s accusation that he has lost his idealism”
What has motivated Moshe Safdie’s architecture?
Moshe Safdie’s college thesis was titled “A Case for City Living.” The work was a blueprint as farsighted as the commissions the 84-year-old architect is still traveling the world to complete. His rejection of the “Little Boxes made of ticky-tacky” embraced the idea of “for everyone a garden” that would challenge the sterile, high-rise living imposed on the 56% of the world’s population now living in burgeoning cities. He rejects his daughter’s accusation that he has lost his idealism. However, he accepts that in building the casinos and corporate buildings he is obliged to work for, "regimes you're not in love with and business entities whose values are different to yours."
“Si monumentum requiris circumspice”
The epitaph to the architect of St. Paul’s cathedral says, “If you seek his monument, look around.” For Moshe Sadie, one has to look around the globe to see his monuments in their various guises of habitats as homes, museums, libraries, and cultural centers. But two of his most startling monuments are in Singapore. The Marina Sands Bay complex with its mirror pool balanced on three skyscrapers has come to define the skyline of the city-state. But the Jewel Changi Airport with its “City in a Garden” centered around the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, fuses the garden and the marketplace in a complex of airport operations, indoor gardens, leisure attractions, retail offerings, and hotel facilities that are true to Sadie’s original vision of accommodating humanity into urban structures.