Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Billion Dollar Mansion where No One Sleeps

photograph: Jhariani, Wikipedia
click images for larger view
Back in 2010, we wrote about how architects Perkins+Will and interior design firm Hirsch Bender Associates had become extremely shy when it came to talking about their new billion dollar, 550-foot-high mansion, named Antilla, they had just finished in Mumbai for the Ambani family.  168 parking spaces. Three helipads.  400,000 square feet.  A billion dollars.  You can appreciate their dilemma.

photograph: Shashi Bellamkonda, Wikipedia
From a PR standpoint, it was a no-win scenario, but as a challenge - and a commission - how could you pass it up?  Still, the situation couldn't be more delicate.  Or could it?

The Engineering News-Record is reporting that at the billion-dollar-mansion, it's Nessun Dorma, each night, every night. 
According to the principles of Vastu Shastra, a home's eastern side should have enough windows or other openings to let residents receive sufficient morning light. The Ambani home fails on that and other counts, reportedly leading the family to believe that moving in will bring them bad luck and misfortune.
And so, while in sunlight hours you will find Ambani's galore populating Antilla, the "21st-century Taj Mahal", at end of day, as sleep beckons, all the Ambani's slip away.  That's the story.  A family spokesperson demurs.

According to the just-published Forbes list of the world's richest people, Mukesh Ambani is now, at $22 billion, the 19th wealthiest person on the planet.  Just two years ago, in 2010, at $29 million, he was fourth.  He remains the richest man in India, where the per capita annual income is $1219.  In India, the Gini coefficient, where a larger number indicates greater income inequality, was 36.8 in 2004.  In the United States, in 2007, it was 45.0.

It's said that, as recently as the 1970's, the Ambani lived in a two-bedroom apartment.

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