Owner of $1 Billion House Can’t Sleep in It
May 24, 2012
Antilia; Photo: Hirsch Bedner Associates via
Money, it seems, really can’t buy a home. The world’s first and only $1 billion house, a towering 27-story structure in Mumbai filled to the brim with luxurious comforts, technological gizmos, and recreational facilities, has proved incapable of fulfilling the most basic of programs. Constructed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, to house his family, problems with the building and interior design, by Chicago architects Perkins & Will and Atlanta-based Hirsch Bender Associates, have prevented the Ambani’s from moving into their private skyscraper.
The building, called Antilia after a fictional island in Atlantis, functions more as a pied-à-terre than the opulent residence that it is. Family members inhabit the “house” during the daylight hours, indulging in the resident spa, yoga studio, movie theatre, hanging gardens, swimming pool, and “ice room” until nightfall, when Ambani, his wife, mother, and three children return to their other home, a 14-floor complex in the southern part of the city.
So what’s behind the prolonged move-in date? Ambani has been hesitant to discuss the exact motivations keeping his family from permanently occupying the grounds (sky?), while regional and foreign media opined that the billionaire did not realize the ostentatious and, ultimately, oppressive display of wealth he had created until it was too late. Still, other news agencies claimed that the family has been weary of sleeping in the building for “superstitious” reasons. As Arch Record reports, the structure is apparently incompatible with the laws of dwelling as conditioned by Vastu Shastra, an ancient building code that dictates the form and design of both Indian temple and domestic architecture. Many homeowners, new and old, want their houses to adhere to the feng shui-like tenets specified by the system, which include the orientation of windows, air flow, and furniture configuration.
The eastern facade of the Antilia, it turns out, does not have a sufficient number of windows or openings that would bring in morning light to residents–just one of the design’s several failings which, according to the Vastu Shastra, invites misfortune. Ambani’s company spokesmen has dismissed the rumors, saying that the family lives in both of their properties.