Lovers/supporters/ practitioners of sustainable architecture and design have been collectively groaning and rolling their eyes over yesterday’s news that the world’s first billion dollar single-family home — it was initially dubbed “The Greenest of All Buildings” according to an appalled writer over at Inhabitat — has recently been completed on tony Altamount Road in Mumbai, India.
Built for Asia’s wealthiest man, 53-year-old businessman Mukesh Ambani (the world’s fourth richest individual, according to Forbes), his wife, and the couple’s three children, the home — if you can even call it that — has 398,000 square feet of living space spread across 27 stories. (The 568-foot tall glass-and-steel tower can accommodate 60 stories, but the ceilings on each floor are rather, umm, high). All and all, this non-humble abode named Antilia boasts more square footage than Versailles.
Even though Inhabitat claims that Antilia “truly exemplifies the disease of excessive consumption, extreme wastefulness, and unsustainable living that is permeating today’s society” of course we want to know what’s inside such a perversely large home. Well, here we go: at least one swimming pool (natch), a fitness center, a 50-seat movie theatre, nine elevators, a ballroom, and enough guest rooms to gag a horse (and provide accommodations for a small convention, I'm guessing). There are also three helipads and a garage large enough to fit 150 cars. To keep things running smoothly at chez Ambani, there’s a staff of 600. Good grief.
On the green front, The Guardian reports that Antilia was built with local materials and features a four-story, sunlight-absorbing hanging garden that was inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This living wall helps to keep the interior of Antilia warm in the winter and cool during the summer months. Interesting enough, Antilia was designed by high-profile, sustainability-minded American architecture firm Perkins + Will (the firm behind Victoria B.C.'s Dockside Green) while Atlanta-based Hirsch Bender Associates oversaw the home’s interior design scheme.
While it's easy to conclude that any sustainability that played a part of Antilia’s design is negated by the home’s egregious size, at least something went into it. I’ll give it that much. But not much more.
An associate of Ambani defends him and downplays the home’s lavish size, telling The Guardian:
He can't just walk into a cinema and watch a film like you or me. So he has built a house to his requirements like anyone else would. It's a question of convenience and requirements. It's only a family home, just a big one. It's just another home that someone is living in. It's no big event."