According to Wired, an “undisclosed billionaire” has paid $475 million for a private Airbus A380 passenger jet.
The plane weighs 361 tons, is eight stories tall, and can hold up to 500 passengers – but this nameless billionaire will simply be using it as “one of the most expensive mobile homes in the world” (complete with $150 million in “custom upgrades”).
For whatever mysterious reasons of his or her own, the plane’s owner has taken to calling the custom airplane “Project Trinity.”
Which is actually interesting, because I was just thinking the other day that there are no flying churches – at least for mainstream congregations – and I don’t think there are any sky mosques.
In other words, the architectural history of the Church doesn’t, to my knowledge, include any airplanes. Gothic cathedrals, sure – but no StratoPulpit™. No CloudChurches (©).
And Islam has no AirMosques®.
In fact, this would make an interesting addition to the Pamphlet Architecture series: speculative religious architecture, creatively re-using vehicles from the private air transport industry.
In any case, while we’re on the subject of extravagant private homes, as everyone in the world heard at least once last week, Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, is constructing himself a private skyscraper in Mumbai.
[Image: Mukesh Ambani’s 60-story house; via the Mumbai Mirror].
Ambani’s new home will be “over 170m tall,” the BBC reported, and it will require “an army of 600 staff to manage it.”
All said, the tower will cost as much as $1 billion to construct (or 1/20th of Ambani’s reported wealth).
According to the Mumbai Mirror, the house has been named “Residence Antilia.” The Mirror goes on to explain that Antilia is “a phantom island said to lie in the Atlantic Ocean far to the west of Spain. This mythical island had several other names such as Isle of Seven Cities, Ilha das Sete Cidades (Portuguese), Septe Cidades, Sanbrandan (or St Brendan), etc.” Some people say Antilia is actually Manhattan; others say it’s one of the Canary Islands; and yet others say it would make an awesome summer project for architectural design studios: design Antilia, an artificial island – or series of islands – “far to the west of Spain.”
Briefly, then, Residence Antilia will include:
• space for 168 “imported” cars, divided across six floors
• an entire floor for “car maintenance,” with an “in-house service centre”
• an “entertainment floor”
• terraces, balconies, and roof gardens
• a “health” floor, including “the latest gym equipment” and a pool
• three helipads
• two basement levels
The expenditure is appalling, and the obvious contrast to the poverty of everyday Mumbai is almost literally unbelievable; and yet I have a soft spot for weird architectural projects built by really rich people – and a private skyscraper would make such a fantastic setting for a novel or film, not to mention a wild place to be left alone for the weekend, that I have to be honest and admit that I find this project pretty interesting.
Is it well-designed (by architects Perkins + Will)? It’s too hard to tell from these images. Is it socially just? Of course not.
But it’s an awesome addition to the growing pantheon of extreme private homes – and the narrative implications that it presents for future Ballardian artworks (novels, films, videogames) are, for me, stunning.
At the very least: a Bollywood Home Alone.
(Vaguely related: $5.4 billion).