Home Again, Home Again

[Image: The future of the private home: a $475 million, custom Airbus A380; illustration by Bryan Christie for Wired].

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

Etc. etc.
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).

23 thoughts on “Home Again, Home Again”

  1. I’ve noticed the fascination this blog has with helicopters and planes as architecture, and find myself wondering this – are airships too plausible for you somehow?

    Theoretically, a zeppelin would make an ideal recreational vehicle – it’s not limited to the sea or to roads, fully automatic navigation is possible, solar power and rainwater collection areas are huge (and therefore a potential source for replacement hydrogen as lifting gas, assuming you can get around the exploding problem).

    In related news, Mukesh Ambani is going to need some hellacious security. This is the most visible momument to greed I have ever heard of, and probably the most vulnerable.

  2. pretty obvious that the rich people with their lavish homes have obviously no clue about carbom emissions and the general state of our environment today! wonder what it might feel to have a home in a plane which can never fly and probably even end up in some desloate island (LOST?!)

    The Ambanis home is indeed a sad reminder of how unequal the wealth distribution in India is…

  3. Pure (dystopic) sci-fi: the rich in towers rising high above the endless poor sprawl below.

    Morals aside – does moral even exist in such a city as Mumbai… or in India in general where people are just reborn as deserved – the skyscraper looks quite amazing. It seem to become the first realization of the ideas carried in the dutch expo-pavillion in Hannover, made by MVRDV.

  4. A flying Mosque would have to be always pointing towards Mecca. I suppose the mihrab could be on one side of the plane and it could fly in a circle with Mecca as the centre point. Still, landing might be tricky.

    Though perhaps not as tricky as negotiating a mihrab on a spaceship.

  5. I don’t think there is anything new about the super-rich building monuments to their wealth. Versailles, Biltmore, and the “cottages” of Newport, Rhode Island were probably a similar level of excess at the time they were built as the projects you described above. Maybe in 200 years the billionaire’s plane and “Residence Antilia” will be museums open to the public. “This is where the family gathered around the 200 inch plasma TV; small by today’s standards…”

  6. Interestingly enough, I don’t think that the liveable A380 is such a far-fetched idea. As a person who spent hours upon hours of his childhood building large-scale models of jet bombers, I was always intrigues by how habitable they were. Boeing bomers always had bunkbeds, canteens, and recreational tables (think of the chessboard table aboard the Millenium Falcon) in their pressurized crew compartments. I’m sure that the accomodations were spartan, but at least the idea was there in the first place.

    My own flying home would have a glass-encased library with a fireplace. I’m not sure how the fireplace would work, but it would be nice.

  7. Yeah, dystopic: take that tower in Mumbai, mix it up with that Shimizu pyramid that’s been spec’d for Tokyo Bay, and you totally have the Tyrell Corporation HQ.

  8. >>A flying Mosque would have to be always pointing towards Mecca

    – less could do it… a compass fx.

    >>Tyrell Corporation HQ

    – exactly my thoughts

  9. And Islam has no AirMosques®.

    Well, not a mosque, but I know of something kind of close.

    For over six years I worked for an aircraft manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest which shall remain nameless.

    When I first started there, a friend of mine showed me the general design drawings for a custom jumbo jet that was turned into a private plane for a Saudi prince (can’t remember the name, but honestly, how big is the Saudi royal family).

    In the very back of the plane, just forward of the tail was his private stateroom/bedroom.

    The room just forward of that was the prince’s private prayer room, that contained only a Muslim prayer rug.

    The rug sat on a custom turntable that was tied into the planes INS (Inertial Navigation System), so whenever the Prince would pray Mecca, all he would have to do was kneel down on the rug, and it would already be oriented for him.

  10. Wow, beyond the cost the preliminary sketch makes it look like Ambani’s new home is in danger of falling smack over. Hopefully it won’t but it looks just kind of perched in areas. Thanks for the cool post.

  11. The brand new A380 will be incredible discovering I think!Even China Airlines asked Airbus to make only passengers planes, without baggage place!! in order to transport more people at same time. Guessings arround 800.

    Greetings from Spain Architect


  12. Wouldn’t this tower be the ideal first target for Pakistan when those two finally go at it, nuke-style? Or for that matter, any disgruntled party with a shoulder-fired rocket?

  13. While on the subject of terrorist action a thought is taking shape: combine the A380 and the Antilia Tower into the worlds most (architecturally) highclass terrorist attack!

  14. I’m not sure is this project will get succeed or not,since I expect some people will sue against this much tall building in Mumbai..And I know about Anil Amabani(younger brother of Mukesh),he always want to over take his big brother..So if it get success then we can see one project perhaps bigger than this…
    AA Breakdown Cover

  15. The rug sat on a custom turntable that was tied into the planes INS (Inertial Navigation System), so whenever the Prince would pray Mecca, all he would have to do was kneel down on the rug, and it would already be oriented for him.

    This is awesome, by the way.

  16. I once flew from London to Delhi via Amman on Royal Jordanian Airlines. It was very comfortable. On the in-flight entertainment screens, there was the usual slideshow of information about the flight, current location on a map, air speed, outside temp, etc. But among the slides was a diagram that showed you which direction Mecca was, relative to the layout of the plane, at any given time.

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