Mukesh Ambani’s residence Antilia – The most expensive house in the world.
Antilia is home to the richest man in India and the second richest man in Asia, Mr. Mukesh Ambani and is the most expensive house in the world. He is the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries – the second most valuable company in India by market value. Forbes has ranked Mukesh Ambani as the ninth wealthiest person in the world with a fortune of US$27 Billion. Antilia is the world’s most expensive private residential property valued at close to US$ 2 billion. It is also the second most expensive residential property in the world after Buckingham Palace. However Buckingham palace is designated as a government property whereas Antilia is a private residence. It is named after the mythical island Antilia which is believed to have sunk to the depths of the Atlantic ocean thousands of years ago.
The Ambani family which consists of Mukesh Ambani, wife Nita Ambani and their 3 children live on the top 4 floors which is their private residence. Before moving into Antilia, Mukesh Ambani and family lived with his younger brother and industrialist Anil Ambani and his family in an 18 floor building in South Mumbai called “sea wind”. Unlike other billionaires who have homes all over the globe, Mukesh Ambani has gone on record saying that this is the only home they have. A lavish house-warming party was organized which was attended by celebrities and prominent personalities including industrialists, politicians and film stars.
The building has a 600 member staff who ensure the smooth running of this dream home. The staff include domestic servants, security personnel, mechanics, aviation engineers, personal fitness trainers, gardeners, bartenders etc. The staff are all highly skilled and trained by experts. The waiters and waitresses have been trained by the luxury Oberoi hotel chain. There are also separate arrangements made for the accommodation of the staff of this house.
Cost of the house
Antilia is the most expensive house in the world with an estimated cost of US$2 billion to US$3 billion. The New York Times have reported that the cost of the building would be between US$1 billion to US$3 billion with the combined costs of construction as well as the land. The cost of Mukesh Ambani’s house in Indian Rupees is estimated to be around Rs 4500 Crores.
Location in Mumbai
The 27 storey tall building is located in Altamount road, off Peddar road in Mumbai. This is one of the prime residential localities in Mumbai city. Altamount road is the tenth most expensive street address in the world. Prominent personalities like Aditya Birla and Deepak Parekh already live here. Tata group chairman Mr. Ratan Tata is also expected to move to his newly renovated bungalow on Altamount road.
Construction and design of Antilia
The building was designed by Perkins and Will – a Chicago based architecture firm who have designed many landmarks buildings in the USA and other parts of the world. Hirsch Bedner Associates – a Santa Monica California based design firm was also consulted by the Ambanis for the design of the home. The construction work of the building was taken over by Leighton Holdings(now known as CMIC Group Ltd.), an Australia based construction company. It took 7 years to construct this massive house.
Antilia has 27 floors with high ceilings which make it much taller than similar buildings with the same height. The height of Antilia is 570 feet or 173 meters. It is estimated that other buildings with similar heights could have up to 60-70 floors. The house has been designed in such a way that it can survive an earthquake measuring 8 on the Richter scale. The $2 billion house is spread over a lavish 400,000 square feet area. The building has a huge parking lot spread over 6 floors which can accommodate 168 cars mostly for guests and the family’s own cars. 2 floors are meant exclusively for the cars of Ambani family which include a Maybach 62 and a Rolls Royce Phantom while the rest of the 4 floors are meant for visitor car parking. There is also a fully featured service centre and garage on the seventh floor of Antilia. Another way to reach Mr Ambani’s house is to land directly on one of the three helipads in the building. An entire floor has been designated as “air space” which guides incoming helicopters.Even though the house has been designed to save energy, Antilia’s electricity bill reportedly is a staggering Rs 70 Lakhs a month.
Interiors of the house
Mukesh Ambani’s wife Nita Ambani said that the home was made right at the top to get maximum sunlight and a great view of the sea from the rooms. It has been designed as an elevated house on top of a garden. The design, as per Mrs. Ambani, is based on the lotus and the sun, and is decorated using rare wood, marble, pearl and crystal, all crafted by expert Indian artisans.
There are 3 swimming pools and yoga studio in Antilia and also an ice room to escape the Mumbai heat which stimulates the effects of winter. The house also contains mini theatres, three balconies, ballroom, a spa, terrace gardens and huge floor to ceiling windows which gives a stunning view of the Arabian sea. Crystal chandeliers take up most of the ceiling in the ballroom. The mini theatres in Antilia can seat up-to 50 people and has wine rooms and snack bars. Several film screenings have been staged in this state of the art theatre. Those who have visited the Ambani residence have also reported a huge library, lavish dining areas and marble floors. Antilia also has a Hindu prayer room or Pooja room like most Hindu households. The seating arrangement in the house resembles the lobby of a 5 star hotel. There is also a stage for entertainers and a kitchen which can serve hundreds of guests. There are countless lounges throughout the building where fine rugs, chandeliers and mirrors feature heavily. The ballroom on the seventh floor is believed to be a carbon copy of the Mandarin Inn in New York. Each floor and each room has been designed in a unique way using different materials so that no room in the house is similar in look.
Antilia has 9 super fast elevators which run from its lobby to different parts of the building. Out of these 9, 2 lifts are dedicated for the parking area alone which covers 6 floors. The lifts which service the family’s living area at the top of the structure do not run to the guest quarters and vice versa. There are 3 elevators dedicated for guests and 2 for the Ambani family. The remaining 2 elevators are service lifts which will be used only by staff.
Beautiful hanging gardens have been constructed from the 8th floor up to the 12th floor of Antilia. It is said that these hanging gardens have been inspired by the hanging gardens of Babylon which was once considered to be among the seven wonders of the world. An advanced gardening method called Hydroponics has been used to grow plants in this garden. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil the need of soil. This technique can also be used to grow plants on walls and is used on the walls of Antilia. One of the gardens has a huge statue of Hindu God Vishnu made of Silver and Gold adorned with diamonds and pearls.
The ice room on the 13th floor is a speciality of Antilia. This room has been created to create the feeling of winter and snow fall using snow guns. The snow gun freezes water just before freezing point and converts the water into soft snow rather than ice. Then the snow gun throws out the snow with great pressure which creates the effect of snowfall.
The floors of Antilia are divided as follows
- Floors 1-6 – Car parking
- Floor 7 – Home theatre and Ballroom
- Floor 8-12 – Hanging gardens
- Floor 13 – Swimming pools, Gymnasium and ice room
- Floor 14-20 – Guest Apartments and Maintenance floor
- Floor 21-27 – Ambani residence
- Terrace – 3 Helipads
There were many controversies related to the construction of Antilia. Mukesh Ambani had initially purchased the land where the house is situated from the Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Trust. This land was previously owned by an orphanage and this land was meant to be used for the purpose of education of underprivileged children. Mr. Ambani had bought this land for a price of US$3.1 million whereas the prevailing market price at that time was US$22 million. The revenue department of the government of Maharashtra and the Waqf board who controlled the trust opposed the sale of the land at such a cheap price. A public interest litigation was filed in the supreme court of India and a stay order was placed on the sale of the land. The Supreme Court rejected the plea order and asked the board to approach the Bombay High court. However the matter was settled by both the parties after Mukesh Ambani agreed to pay a sum of US$24,000 as compensation through his company, Antilia Commercial Pvt Ltd. Thus construction on the building began in June 2011. There were reports that the state government had sought the Home Department’s opinion on ordering a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the purchase of Wakf land on Altamount Road by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani to build his skyscraper residence ‘Antilia’.
There was another controversy when the Indian navy objected to the construction of helipads on buildings in Mumbai. There were also complaints from some local NGOs saying that the helipads on the buildings violate local noise laws. Also there were issues related to the construction of a car park which was found to be illegal. The minister of state for urban development department Bhaskar Jadhav said if the permission had not been given for the parking area for Antilia, the space could have instead been used as a pavement.
There were also reports that the Ambani family had not moved into the house due to fear of “bad luck” as the house did not confirm to the rules of the ancient Indian knowledge of Vaastu-shastra. Vaastu is the ancient Indian philosophy that guides the architecture of Houses and temples. It emphasizes the importance of the residents of the house facing the rising sun. Despite the huge amount of planning and money invested in Antilia, according to some Vaastu experts, the home does not confirm to Vaastu requirements. There was speculation that even though several parties were events were held in Antilia, the family never spent the night there and had not moved in completely. However Nita Ambani later clarified that those were only rumours and the family had been living in Antilia since the pantiliaast several months.
There is another rival building that has come up only a few miles away from Antilia. This building is being constructed by the Singhania family owners of Raymond group. Seen from a distance, the two buildings are similar in size and design.
Many Indians did not appreciate this show of wealth by the richest man in India and branded it as shameful in a nation where many children go hungry and many citizens survive on less than US$2 a day. The fact that Mukesh Ambani chose to build such a lavish house in Mumbai, which is home to the largest slum in Asia has been slammed by many. The chairman of Tata group, Mr. Ratan Tata said that Antilia is the example of rich Indians’ lack of empathy for the poor. “The person who lives in there should be concerned about what he sees around him and asking can he make a difference. If he is not, then it’s sad because this country needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways of mitigating the hardship that people have” He said. Many Indians have criticized the fact that the Ambanis chose to show off their wealth in a city which is home to seven million slum dwellers and where even well paid middle class professionals find it difficult to find a decent home.
The design of the house itself has not been appreciated well and many people have even called the building “ugly”. There was an opinion that Antilia looks like as if the blocks were created separately and then piled on top of each other.