Peter Thiel, the multibillionaire co-founder of PayPal and Palantir, continues his quest to build a techno-capitalist fiefdom capable of withstanding society’s impending eco-collapse down in New Zealand.
Most recently, he’s focusing on a new, potential getaway bunker lodge on the banks of Lake Wānaka facing the Southern Alps. Six years after purchasing 193 hectares of land (roughly 476-square-acres) in Damper Bay, Thiel’s company Second Star Ltd. has filed the paperwork to begin construction on an 11-room “luxury lodge” designed by Kengo Kuma and Associates (the architects behind the Tokyo Olympics Stadium) that will feature a “small meditation pod, library, theatre lounge and spa rooms” for up to 30 occupants.
According to conceptual design images and site descriptions, the property will essentially camouflage into the surrounding landscape via curved exteriors covered in native foliage, resulting in a resort that is “reasonably difficult” to see from public spaces and neighboring properties.
All of this may be billed under the guise of sustainable, green architecture meant to reduce optical space for nearby residents, but it’s hard to look at Thiel’s new venture and not see the screaming subtext written on every piece of pleasantly rendered concept art: this is a slyly hidden getaway for the grotesquely wealthy to feel good about themselves and what they think they’re doing for humanity while the rest of the world literally sinks into the seas.
Billionaires continue to escape reality — Another bit of info found within the details of the filing is that Thiel’s zen compound will employ up to 30 local workers at any given time, although the report is careful to note that none of these people will actually live on the grounds. As Stuff New Zealand also notes, the proposal “includes substantial ecological works, including the retention of native forest, fencing to keep pests and stock out, and the restoration of wetlands alongside a substantial area of farmland.” So, there’s that.
The increasing number of luxury fuck-yous like “hidden” mountain lodges and billionaire space sightseeing jaunts won’t dissipate soon, in all likelihood. As the world of their underlings becomes more precarious, it’s easy to envision the wealthiest upping the demand for high-end escapism, projects that will almost invariably include some shallow “progressive” add-ons like green architecture or Billionaire Boyz Club space races for charity. Don’t be fooled.