Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The First PS1 Billion Home; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images Our Columnist Looks at Some Remarkable Urban Housing

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The First PS1 Billion Home; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images Our Columnist Looks at Some Remarkable Urban Housing

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Saatchi the naked eye

NESTLED among Mumbai's grim slums is the 27-storey home of India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani. In reality, it is the equivalent of 39 storeys tall, as many floors have double height ceilings.

At 400,000 square feet in area, with 600 household staff, a two-level health spa, a ballroom that fills an entire floor, a swimming pool set among terraced gardens, three helipads, parking for 168 cars, a 100-seat cinema and a temple -- this house has it all.

But his neighbours, most of whom share a desperate, meagre existence, don't gaze up at Mr Ambani in bitterness, or cold hostility at his open display of unfathomable wealth. They look at him with respect, a symbol of great success and good fortune, someone obviously blessed by the deities.

You may wonder how we in London would have welcomed the Shard if it had been built as the spacious home of a Russian oligarch or a sheikh.

But interestingly, with affordable space in the capital drying up as the population expands, London's canals are enjoying a renaissance. Canal living has become increasingly fashionable as house prices escalate -- but it isn't for everyone. As one canal dweller explains: "You have to be very careful to keep your battery charged, and to know where the nearest water supply point is. But certainly, emptying the toilet every week is not everyone's idea of pleasure."

However, it is the sense of community that is particularly valued. It is also a far cheaper way to live. A 55ft canal boat costs about PS20,000 and another PS2,000 a year to run, license and maintain.

Of course, canal life has now become so popular that there are 3,000 boats chasing only 2,000 moorings. This means moving your boat every 14 days until a permanent spot becomes available, at about PS2,000 a year, in a nice location.

However if you suffer from seasickness, perhaps you would consider the opportunity to live in a converted public toilet? …

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