Sarah Rich

Perkins + Will's Antilla "Green" Tower in Mumbai

by , 10/25/07

Mumbai Green Skyscraper, green skyscraper, green tower, sustainable tower, mumbai sustainable building, SITE architecture, Mukesh Ambani, India green building

A spate of green skyscrapers have shot up in the last few years, as people learn that buildings account for more CO2 emissions than any other single source. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in greenwashing by companies recognizing the market value of green and making false claims to fit the category. In an exemplary meeting of these two trends, we have just discovered a building in progress in Mumbai that calls itself the greenest of all the buildings in the Maximum City of 13 million people. If ever there were a literal interpretation of a deceptive green façade, this is it.


Renderings of the 27-story Antilla building depict a highrise that couldn’t be greener. It’s covered in foliage, with living walls enclosing all four sides, hanging gardens and green rooftop. Just a few days ago, the architects boasted about its environmental features – primarily that the walls of plants will increase green space and combat urban heat island effect. But look behind the green façade, and as far as we can tell, there’s nothing else sustainable about the materials or construction. Architecture firm Perkins + Will doesn’t include the project on their site, but this week mentioned no other green features besides the literal green.

The Antilla is being built for Reliance Industries Ltd, India’s largest private sector enterprise (with revenues exceeding $25 billion), and the Ambani family, who own the company. Reliance is a petrochemical corporation whose earnings come from exploring, producing, refining and marketing oil and gas. They are the world’s largest producer of polyester fiber, and a runner-up for several others.

Mumbai Green Skyscraper, green skyscraper, green tower, sustainable tower, mumbai sustainable building, SITE architecture, Mukesh Ambani, India green building

The building will stand on Mumbai’s Altamount Road, where real estate costs as much as $1800/square foot. Although Mumbai is the densest city in the world, with almost 30,000 people per square kilometer, this 500+ foot tall building will only be 27 floors where normally a building of this height would be 60, so that each floor can have exceptionally high ceilings, and 35,000 square feet of the entire building area will be the residential quarters of the Ambani’s.

Sustainability is most commonly defined as The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Unless this goal is applied to everyone, it’s impossible for us to have a sustainable global society. Sustainability is about humanity as much as it is about greenery. Living walls are lovely, but they’re not a free ticket to environmental integrity.

Via Skyscraper City

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40 Comments

  1. zombie May 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Hey guys…!! Does any1 of u tel me abt the foundation of this structure… Im suppose to do a presentation on this building.. Please reply me asap….

  2. totemkin November 26, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Max’s comment is right on the money. This is an utterly garish creation betraying a stunning lack of class by the owner. Ambani’s residential neighbors are outraged, and rightly so. A “green” skyscraper blocks out natural light reaching their homes – how green is that? Talking about “green” and “sustenance” in this context is much like claiming the superior medical care given to a patient on death row saved his life and making a big deal about it.

  3. EMCEEE October 15, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Fantastic World Class Architecture by Perkins + Wills.
    Mr Mukesh Ambani and family are extremely fortunate to own such a
    huge building in Mumbai. GODDESS Lakshmi is kind to them and Wish them Best of Luck and Happiness.

  4. Manju August 31, 2010 at 3:11 am

    Nice Design.

  5. nimishprabhu August 20, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Hey this is indeed a nice project
    can i get the phone no. and address details on my email so that i can visit the site as soon as possible.
    Thanks.

  6. kajabawa vaddey May 16, 2010 at 2:36 am

    INDIA Tusi Great Ho.

    The foppish tasteless slap on the face of poverty sticken billions of people of INDIA.

  7. chupacerveza September 27, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Anon X says,”To be really green DONT MAKE ANYTHING thats not necessary.”

    … even art from recycled material becomes un-green with this guideline. I think you need to revisit your stance.

  8. Nico Wright Nico Wright December 16, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    I’d be curious to consider how this building could have been accomplished as it is, that is sustainable as well as a decadent expression of wealth, and satisfy all the parties here. Perhaps If P+W had taken the opportunity of being funded by such a massive budget (does anyone have figures on that?) to undertake research and development of new methods or products, perhaps in materials, that could then be published and shared so as to contribute to the sustainable movement in the construction and design fields. So that on beyond some pretty rendering with some green texture maps all over it, we got some technical specifications for a revolutionary new method of grey water recycling in high-rise towers? Now that might actually prove some usefulness to the project of “sustainability”. Best to back up some of that PR and Marketing with some verifiable and reproducible results. Where’s the science in this art we’ve been calling architecture of late?

    I’d like to think that this is what Ms. Rich had in mind when she bemoans P+W rather thin sounding application of “green” ideals. It seems much of the discussion here has been a tad too reactionary, and not looking for answers to the aptly brought criticisms presented here.

    Then again Cedric Price’s first question of his clients was often: “Do we really need this building?” He inevitably tried to talk them out of building, saying “ the problem is not that we don’t have enough buildings—rather, we have too many of them. The problem is, we don’t know how to use the ones we have.”

  9. slumdweller August 7, 2008 at 9:02 am

    This building is a tasteless joke on the millions of slum dwellers of Mumbai.

  10. shikin August 6, 2008 at 6:19 am

    i’m so interested to know about antilia tower…can i know the estimate cost antilia tower and material constuction used….can reply me..

  11. Mukesh Ambani and the A... July 24, 2008 at 9:06 am

    [...] almost six months. All the while, Ambani’s been in the press for how he’s built Antilla to be green. Now, sure, it’s great that he’s made use of environmentally sound building practices [...]

  12. pemela July 15, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    ooo..god!!
    fantastic!!!
    amazing!!
    hope my husband give me house like antilla!!:)

  13. pepp May 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I don’t believe this bldg is being marketed as an eco-friendly first-of-its-kind save the earth type. On the contrary, this bldg is purely a display of opulence, luxury and extravagance by someone who can afford. The architects and the sponsors are using few green principles which probably ties in with sponsors requirements.

    Taj mahal got built centuries ago, don’t think there was a reason to build that back then. One thing simply to understand is that crazy powerful rich people through out the history do as they please, and if you dont agree with what they do, then be one of them and do something different to prove a point.

    That’s why when I think of this bldg, I think what a waste, because Bill Gates, or Warren B could very well afford this sort of luxury but wonder what made them contribute their wealth to humanitarian causes.

  14. Anon X November 20, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    so sorry… The residential green building is an eye wash since all large companies are trying to use this ‘green’ as a way to make money. Reliance strives on increasing the global warming effect with the nature of their business.
    To be really green DONT MAKE ANYTHING thats not necessary. We are at a crisis so stop the BS of making green. Ask if Perkins+Will will create this building from salvaged materials. Oh NO way! ….but that is being green. We are in crisis where recylcing is already too late. We have to just reduce.

    so sorry ….I feel so sorry for Reliance to live in a smog of pollution rising to his bedroom created by their own business. Has anyone try to breathe in Mumbai:)?

    in addition..
    so sorry …I have worked in NYC in these large firms, and have noticed the inefficeincy in their work. Rich India is willing to throw their money out for the hype of hiring american architects.

    end.

  15. Pallav November 5, 2007 at 2:54 am

    This seems to be an interesting structure. Can i have information about the structural designer for this building. Also would be interested in checkingout various structural plans for the same

  16. Rascacielos “verd... November 4, 2007 at 3:03 am

    [...] Fuente: Inhabitat [...]

  17. shocked November 1, 2007 at 5:19 am

    to further clarify, no matter how you spin it, mcmansions or huge-homes-more-than-the-space-you-really-need can never be ‘green’ in the truest sense of the word.

  18. shocked November 1, 2007 at 5:16 am

    anonymous- as far as i know, a ‘huge’ home is NOT green.

  19. Max October 31, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Some comments on this and other websites naively extoll this building’s ability to employ hundreds of office workers, house their families, and contribute to a cleaner environment in Mumbai. Don’t be fooled by the greenwash here, people: this building might ‘employ’ hundreds, but only if you consider pruning houseplants, parking cars or fetching coffee a promising career. It will never become an ‘office’ building, save for the current group of employees who work in temporary offices in the basement of this active construction site. It does not, nor will it ever ‘house’ 600 people and/or their families. It will require more water, raw materials and energy to build and sustain the greenwalls than they will ever absorb in CO2 emissions. This ‘house’ is a hopelessly mis-directed ‘shrine’ for a small family, who have chosen to build and fuel this unsustainable hulk rather than invest in improvements to the outdated, environmentally toxic, overtaxed, and rotting infrastructure of their city/country (on which their family business depends and profits). The issue here has nothing to do with ‘Democracy’ or letting an individual reward their own sucess/ambition because they feel they have somehow earned it. The Ambanis still could have rewarded themselves handsomely at a far more modest scale than this. It would have been a far greater testament to their political, social and marketing intelligence if they were to have NOT spent the excessive amounts of money required to build this ‘anti-monument ‘and instead spent it re-building infrastructure, cleaning up the environment or assisting the millions of impoverished Indians who must share their tin-shack domains with feral animals feeding off the garbage that chokes Mumbai’s urban landscape. WAKE UP humanity! This building is THE poster child for the absolute WRONG direction we must go to preserve what is left of our humanity and our world…

  20. Perkins + Will’s Anti... October 31, 2007 at 4:56 am

    [...] A spate of green skyscrapers have shot up in the last few years, as people learn that buildings account for more CO2 emissions than any other single source. At the same time, we’ve seen a rise in greenwashing by companies recognizing the market value of green and making false claims to fit the category. In an exemplary meeting of these two trends, we have just discovered a building in progress in Mumbai that calls itself the greenest of all the buildings in the Maximum City of 13 million people. If ever there were a literal interpretation of a deceptive green façade, this is it. read more [...]

  21. simon seasons October 30, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    A single residence regardless of it’s capacity to claim green credentials via materials or design, fails the criteria on the basis that one family is using enough resources to satisfy the needs of thousands. Here in Australia a company called Delphin Lend Lease is proposing to build a ‘green’ development of 13,000 Mc Mansions, with no site analysis for individual dwellings, no proposed parks, no childcare centres, etc. Its claimed green credentials seem to be based on the fact that it retains storm water runoff in ‘lifestyle’ ponds, that the houses may have a roof water tank and/or a solar panel or solar hot water heater. Otherwise the houses are all enormous, hideous brick veneers with aspects ignored in favour of street frontage, hundreds of light bulbs, three and four car garages, three room per person and ‘no single mothers please’.
    The development is to be called ‘Lockerbie’. I would call it another ‘plan crash’. To top it off, the city of Melbourne introduced a green belt ban to stop the expansion of the city and this proposal is for land just outside of the defined boundry, as if to emphasise the point that these structures are built primarily as a ‘look at me’ exercise and not as a sustainable living intergrated home.
    One thing I look forward to is that the climate crisis will simply run this type of ‘no design’ development over like a greyhound bus. We don’t allow barbers and butchers to perform surgery on humans anymore. One must be suitably qualified to practice medicine. When are we going to make it that designers and architects and not developers and clients are the ones suitably qualified to make decisions of a sustainable manner so that our cities function sustainably and so that we all have a future.

  22. dug October 29, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    ben, your lifestyle is more overconsumptive than the majority of the people in the world. wouldn’t your counterpart in china see your fridge and computer… maybe your ac or car… and say the same thing about you? it’s not that i disagree with you, but your righteousness (oh. good lord… learn a little…) is not wholly deserved. and since you know where billionaires come from, tell me, what radically disproportionate access to resoure did bill gates have (besides maybe a free & democratic society)?

  23. Jardines colgantes en u... October 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    [...] Inhabitat Hypnotic Jellyfish Aquarium, una pecera [...]

  24. divvyaan October 28, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    The argument seems to have gone off topic, though interesting.
    Ajay- lets not get defensive and personal about my society vs. yours. I agree inequality exists is different proportion throughout world, but you and I wish the eastern countries can adapt better qualities of developed world rather than consumerism, polarisation and materialism. There is no way this building is supposed to be green in any architectural way. It’s PR and mktg is doing a good job in getting us confused. And P+W great track record is no reason they are exemplifying here with Ambanis. Its an opportunity for them to sell sustainability to one of the richest family, if at all. And if this building aims any kind of LEED certification, it certainly will be an unfortunate list to LEED and I hope USGBC intercepts.
    Regarding a 27 story building for one family is totally ridiculous. Does that opinion make a difference? no. But, mimicing the opulence in such a garish way is not a true reflection Indian society anyways.
    A detailed introspection will help understanding the impact of such an expenditure in a very non-indigenous design.

    India has better green buildings, including LEED certied and Platinum to talk about, at all.

  25. Nick Simpson October 28, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Anon – I don’t understand your comment “Would you rather that they build a huge home that is NOT “green”?” The whole point is that this building ISN’T green. Hanging gardens won’t make the blindest bit of difference here, you might as well just paint the building green for all the difference it’ll make… As for the comment about P+W’s record on sustainable design, it counts for nothing. I’ve seen companies capable of brilliant design come up with utter rubbish because that’s what the clinet has demanded.

  26. Ben Schiendelman October 28, 2007 at 2:44 am

    Ajay – you can’t argue against one inequality by saying “look over here, this one is worse!” Want to help? Don’t support projects like this.

  27. October 27, 2007 at 12:13 am

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  28. Ajay Panwar October 26, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    To Ben Schiendelman
    It is true that India reflects vast inequalities but the same inequalities are reflected to an equal or greater extent globally, compare the West with poorest or poor countries in the world. On the whole the global community is unequal and there has been plenty of unaccountable and unsustainable development in the west for a very long time. This is not to say that we should not be responsible in our actions now.
    About freedom and democracy, these are universal values, not just white, western prerogatives, so be careful before criticizing another civil society.

    Sarah
    I agree with you that one has to debate sustainability and it has to go beyond mere certification as a green building. It is my hope that Indian cities in the future will develope in a more environmentally responsible manner because we face a severe energy and resources crunch, and the need for development will call for creative solutions. I appreciate your bringing in a different dimension to the Antilla discussion.

  29. Anonymous October 26, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Sustainability should not be limited to people that are left-wing. If a wealthy person chooses to build a large-expensive home, I think it is wonderful that they are choosing to build it in a more earth-responsible manner. No matter what your personal views are on the world, your personal views will most likely not change the fact that wealthy people will do what they wish with their money. Would you rather that they build a huge home that is NOT “green”?

  30. Alex October 26, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    http://sitenewyork.com/frame/index.htm

    Not so sure this is just P&W (if them at all?). It seems to have roots with James Wines and Co. at SITE architecture – known for interesting environmental designs of the metaphorical and symbolic kind. At any rate, there seems to be conflicting evidence out there with even a cursory perusal of websites.

  31. Skyscrapers kunnen groe... October 26, 2007 at 11:22 am

    [...] Dit gebouw is het resultaat van een mooie samenwerking tussen ecologisten, tuinarchitecten, architecten, ingenieurs en mensen met veel geld. Het gebouw komt in Mimbai (India) te staan en is hopelijk een trendsetter voor stedelijke architectuur. Meer info hier. [...]

  32. shocked October 26, 2007 at 12:35 am

    YOU’RE KIDDING ME RIGHT? what’s green about a towering skyscraper (and ugly to boot) to house ONE single family? man, you have to do your research..

  33. Ben Schiendelman October 25, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Oh, good lord. Free, democratic society? Did I seriously just hear someone claim that a billion dollar residence is acceptable? No. It’s not. The only reason that anyone has a billion dollars is radical disproportionality of access to resources. Try the Gini index, learn a little about what sustainability really includes – you can’t have ecological sustainability in a hugely unequal society.

  34. Sustainable Design Upda... October 25, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    [...] that this towering mass of chlorophyll is really ugly. Take a look. There are more photos over at Inhabitat. Don’t let Architects tell you what is good design and what isn’t. Use your senses. [...]

  35. A green skyscraper in M... October 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    [...] about green issues that grabs the attention and I could not suppress the urge to share it. This is one such  example. Mumbai will be getting its, supposed to be greenest, skyscraper soon. Read [...]

  36. Sarah Rich Sarah October 25, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    Only a part of it is going to be a residence, according to what I read. 35,000 square feet on the upper floors. I believe the rest will be used, if not as an office, a some kind of other commercial or public space. I don’t dispute that rich people have the right to build themselves big expensive homes. I think the publicity around the building has made it into a much more public project than an ordinary large residence would be, and it’s therefore up against much more criticism from the public that hears about it. This is certainly not the only example of a wealthy oil giant building big places. I do believe it’s one that calls into question what it means to be sustainable.

  37. Mahesh Basanatni October 25, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    India jumped on the green bandwagon with FXFowle Architects’ India Tower in Mumbai. And now this.

  38. Ajay Panwar October 25, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Sarah

    The Antilla building is NOT supposed to be an office building for Reliance Industries (RIL), in fact it is going to be the PRIVATE RESIDENCE for Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of RIL. There has been some debate in India about his spending a billion dollars to make himself a home, but I think as an individual in a free, democratic country he has every right to make himself as big and as expensive a home he can afford. Again I would like to correct you here that this is not going to be RIL’s headquaters, I think a building in the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai is going to house RIL headquarters. In that sense this building is more like a vertical palace for a rich man, rather than a skyscraper. Rich people have been making themselves lavish homes all over the world, Europe, New York, Hong Kong, Japan – I don’t see why a rich guy in Mumbai can’t do the same!

    Ajay

  39. Sarah Rich Sarah October 25, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Anon — it’s true that there’s no mention of materials to back up or dispute the claim on the P+W site or in articles about them. I acknowledge it’s possible that they are using sustainable approaches and materials and simply haven’t said so, though I’d have expected that in their interview with Architectural Record this past week, they would have mentioned some of the other reasons it’s sustainable, since the point of the piece is to debunk some of the myths and rumors about the project. They didn’t provide any information that suggests the project is more sustainable than the living walls make it.

    But more to the point I’m making, I consider sustainability to be about much more than materials or building approaches or greenspace. The social and economic factors around this project are ironic when held against the claims about its greenness. If we believe that sustainability is also about locally appropriate design, then the density of Mumbai argues for a highrise that can fit as MANY people into it as possible, not one that cuts the potential human capacity in half for the sake of luxury.

    The petroleum industry is much of the reason that we’re having to build with such urgency. Some big oil companies may be making moves towards more responsible practices, but as far as I can tell, Reliance isn’t doing anything in terms of CSR, they’re just making a really fancy, expensive headquarters. I think this one of the toughest questions for people in creative industries is whether or not to work with clients who either have a history of irresponsible practices, or are causing environmental destruction. Is it a good idea to take clients like that and help them move towards sustainability? Or does it perpetuate the problem to enable any company to put some green on? Wal-Mart and Chevron are central examples right now in that debate. I really don’t know the answer. I think it’d be an interesting conversation to continue here.

  40. Anonymous October 25, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Sarah – Just because the only sustainable feature that you know about is “increase green space and combat urban heat island effect” doesn’t mean that there aren’t more features integrated into the building. Actually, both of those statements appear to be true. Does the building not appear to increase green space via the various strata? Does the building not appear to reduce the heat island effect by using highly reflective materials and living surfaces? So far, I can’t seem to make the connection between what was said by Perkins+Will and your claim of green washing. Maybe you can help me out on that?

    Is the building overpriced? Absolutely. Is the building an odd example of social dichotomy? Of course. But that doesn’t mean that the building isn’t what it claims to be. The greenest (i.e. sustainable) building in the city. Nothing appears to be false about that fact.

    Is it green washing on P+W’s behalf? I doubt it. Take a look at their website and their sustainable operations plan that they freely distribute to other companies. Take a look at their staff and the number of LEED AP’s. (#1 in the country.) Take a look at their leader for sustainable design, Peter Busby. He’s on the same playing field as William McDonough. If there’s one architecture company that can deliver on the statements made about this building, it’s P+W. Maybe your hatred of green washing should use another example. One that can be backed up.

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