Property projects are increasingly a race towards the sky as developers vie for the tallest tower. Or, if you're Elon Musk, the vision is for homes on Mars.
But what if another direction was sought in the quest for architectural splendour, safety and comfort — that being downwards.
Oppidum, a developer of contemporary fortified underground residences, is looking to bring its somewhat alternative style of living to the UAE and other parts of the world.
Its residences are designed for short and long-term contingency plans, whether for private business or leisure.
The UAE is widely regarded as one of the safest places in the world. In Gallup’s Global Law and Order 2021 report, the Emirates scored 95 per cent when it came to feeling safe about walking alone at night. In the highest law and order index, it came second behind Norway
Oppidum told The National that its clients use it despite being in safe and secure places such as the UAE for various reasons.
The developer said: "We don’t discuss individual clients, but in general terms we have had interest from people who wish to protect significant collections of rare and valuable art or automobiles, likewise some clients require a highly secure space to conduct sensitive business meetings. It may also be a luxurious extension of an existing property that does not intrude on their grounds at surface level.
"Many see an Oppidum as a beautifully appointed and luxurious addition to their existing home and a place where they can enjoy their collections and time with their families in the knowledge that these possessions and the people they love are afforded the very highest level of protection should circumstances dictate."
An Oppidum is built for defence, like a bunker, and is protected by significant structural reinforcement and rigorously controlled access.
The developer says it takes military-grade protection equipment and environmental systems and integrates them invisibly into a luxurious family home.
It has self-contained power and water supplies but leaves almost no visible trace of its presence on the surface. It is designed and delivered to the client’s precise specification.
Projects start at $10 million and it said there is no upper limit.
Its most extensive design, called L’Heritage, is suitable for installation at larger properties and is about $100m, depending on location, design, personalisation and interior finish.
It offers a total of 1,000 square metres of accommodation, with public and private areas, an indoor garden, gallery and technical spaces.
Oppidum says it has had "significant interest" from the UAE, and insists its teams are "very well-equipped to deliver supremely luxurious and ultra-secure additions to client’s existing homes across the UAE".