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Communication, Community, Arts & Culture

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  • Antilia


    Sometimes edifices are also built to be inhabited, and Antilia is a good case in point. With twenty seven storeys of concrete, marble and possibly other exotic construction material with a revolutionary architecture bringing forth the essence of the building, Antilia has the potential to become a major landmark of Mumbai equalling the Taj and Gateway of India in grandeur. It is a power statement of sorts representing the ever-present and increasing Ambani clout in Mumbai rather than a building that has purely residential value. It stands for the growing presence of India on the international financial scene as much as for the magnificent success of Reliance. As you suggest it could actually become a tourist destination in the future with some of its floors being made accessible to visitors, or rented out. And given their astute business sense, it is perfectly possible that the Ambanis thought of this possibility when they embarked on its construction. It could also become a museum for Reliance memorabilia housing memories of moments that marked the giant leap forward of this company. By the way, Burj Dubai allows visitors to go on to its hundredth floor or so to have an aerial view of the city for "only" $108 or so. Twenty seven floors is not that tall in comparison but is good enough given the fact that there are not many skyscrapers in Mumbai to obstruct the view around. When I read about Antillia, I remembered something I had read in the past about Warren Buffet's residence, and could not help contrasting the living philosophies of these two great businessmen. Buffet lives in a 1957 one storey house, and drives a car that he bought some ten years ago. He is very frugal in his tastes, and does not believe in splurging. But he is more of an exception in this elite league rather than the rule. Most billionaires have multi-million dollar mansions with yachts and private jets, and even small islands in the Pacific ocean where the turtles and crabs and other fauna are blissfully unaware that they are owned by some of the world's richest men. They simply don't care! I am curious to know what lies behind where Antilia is located. I would not be too surprised if there are slums right behind it which, if it is the case, starkly reminds us that our prosperity is lop-sided. Deprivation is as much of a reality in India as is abundance. India is growing but not at a rate that outpaces the growth of its population. I hope most of the externalities associated with the construction of this building have been positive in the sense that it should have helped many people stay employed for a good while, and not contributed to the pollution of an already over-polluted Mumbai. I also hope they paid all their property taxes the way other working class Indians do! And yes, it is going to be a good case study for students of design who look forward to working on watershed projects in the future.

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