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Green tower

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All eyes in Mumbai are on the Antilia, a 24-storey tower currently under construction. It's unlike anything ever built – in India, or anywhere else for that matter. Basically, it's a 490-foot tall tower, containing a private residence (for billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani), offices — and lots of green spaces.

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There's been a lot of speculation about what's going to be inside. Ambani, chairman of the petro-giant Reliance Industries, has billions at his disposal, so, it seems, the sky is quite literally the limit. In a city that's cramped for space, he's built upward and upward. Rumors circulated that Ambani would occupy the whole building himself, but now it seems he's only be living in the most heavenly portion – the top 17 floors. Having said that, they'll be pretty opulent. Still many Indians have felt the residence to be excessive and ostentatious, given the country's 18 million slum residents.

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On a positive note, the building is fascinating architecturally. It will be built like a green roof – but not only on its roof. There will be horizontal gardens (on various floors all the way up the building) and vertical ones too (trellises sporting hydroponically-grown plants hanging on to its sides). This aims to reduce the urban heat island effect, shading the building and thereby reducing energy costs. The design also uses Vaastu, an Indian concept that's similar to Feng Shui, which is all about energy flow and squares (the most fundamental of all Hindu forms). There's a garden area half-way up the building where all the energies come together.

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Concept designs for the building were submitted by New York architects SITE (see the two images immediately above), but the design which is being built was created by Chicago-based Perkins + Will (top and second from top). The Antilia is named after a mythical island said to lie in the Atlantic west of Spain and Portugal, and visually it's based on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. With such bold inspirations and design, it'll be really interesting to see it when it's finished. RM

Images: (top and second) Perkins + Will, (third and last) SITE

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