In India, $1 Billion House by Perkins+Will Not Fit for Sleeping In

May 22, 2012

By Mridu Khullar Relph
This story first appeared in Engineering News-Record.

Antilia Residential Tower in India
Courtesy of Hirsch Bedner Associates

No one sleeps at Antilia, a $1-billion residence built for India's richest man, because it violates the tenets of Vastu Shastra, an ancient version of feng shui.

 $1-Billion Residential Tower in India
The ballroom is one of many spaces used by the family during the day. The 27-story "house" has 168 parking spaces, nine elevators, three helipads, a health spa, a 50-seat theater and more.

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A lavishly decked-out 27-story residence in the heart of South Mumbai—built for India's richest man and the ninth wealthiest person in the world—is swathed in secrecy. All are mum about the details of how the $1-billion building, named Antilia after the mythical island in the Atlantic, was constructed with a flaw that is keeping the family of Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, from taking up full-time residence.  

Antilia is a house but not yet a home to Ambani, his mother, his wife and their three children. According to reports in national and international media, the building is used only during the day. It is empty of its occupants at night because it fails to conform to Vastu Shastra, an ancient version of feng shui that guides temple architecture in India. Many Indians refer to these principles when constructing their homes.

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.

Consequently, the Ambani family does not sleep in its dream home, dubbed by some as "the Taj Mahal of 21st-Century India." But they do stay there during the day, using some of its 168 parking spaces, nine elevators, three helipads, an air-traffic-control facility, a health spa, a yoga studio, a 50-seat theater, a swimming pool, three floors of hanging gardens, a ballroom and an "ice room" infused with manufactured snow flurries. At night, the family retreats to its 14-story residence.

Both the tower's architect, Chicago-based Perkins & Will, and its interior designer, Atlanta-based Hirsch Bender Associates, decline to comment on the situation. Reliance Industries' spokesman Tushar Pania dismisses questions about the family's reluctance to reside at Antilia as "idle gossip." He was quoted in an October 2011 New York Times article as saying, "It's a private home. There is no reason to discuss it in public." Pania tells ENR the family "lives in both places."

Architects and builders say this is a growing problem in India, where people increasingly want assurance of Vastu Shastra correctness before they'll buy or move into a property. According to reports, it is, as yet, undecided what the family will do with Antilia or who is responsible for the situation.

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