Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and supported Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has submitted plans to build a large complex on 193-acre property in New Zealand’s South Island.
Thiel, who was also an early investor on Facebook and currently sits on the company’s board of directors, bought the property in 2015 for a reported $ 13.5 million through an Auckland-based firm he owns called Second Star Limited.
Plans for the complex, submitted to Queenstown Lakes District Council and released by the council on Tuesday, show several nondescript buildings blending into the landscape on the shores of scenic Lake Wanaka.
Designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architect Kengo Kuma and Associates, the images in the plans show a private residential building built into a hillside and a larger luxury lodge with space for 24 people. There is also a separate meditation capsule, several water features, and a yet-to-be-designed back of the house.
Kengo Kuma and Associates said the goal is to “design organic architecture that blends in with the landscape” while respecting indigenous nature.
The spacious lodge would have 10 bedrooms.
Spas and theaters
The so-called “owner’s cabin” has a spa, a pool, a theater lounge, an office and three bedrooms, while the guest cabin has its own spa and pool as well as a library and 10 guest rooms with a north-facing view of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps .
“The architecture of the proposed lodge is unique,” said Jo Fyfe, Senior Planner at John Edmonds and Associates, who conducted an environmental impact assessment of the complex.
“The careful design and placement of the buildings in the landscape is well thought out and recognizes the landscape setting. The sympathetic design will use a green roof that uses the same naturally rustic palette of vegetation as the hills they will be in. “
Up to 15 employees would work on the construction site at peak times, but none of them would live there according to the planning documents. It is unclear when the lodge could be operational or how much it would cost to stay there.
Kiwi real estate portfolio
In 2017, it emerged that Thiel had been granted citizenship by the New Zealand government.
Located in relative isolation from the world’s largest population centers, New Zealand has become a popular travel destination for wealthy individuals in recent years. In fact, billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page was granted a residence permit earlier this year.
The country, home to around 5 million people, has become synonymous with so-called “preppers” – those who try to prepare for catastrophic events that could pose a threat to humanity. Today there is even a website for those who want to prepare their families for “survival” in New Zealand.
According to reports, Thiel planned to build some sort of apocalypse-proof bunker on his property, which is currently used as a farm. While some of the buildings appear to be built on hillside locations, it is unclear whether any of them will serve as a bunker. A representative from Thiel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The planned guest lodge consists of three pods, while a separate pod will serve as a private house.
A computer generated image of the luxury lodge and house.
The prepper craze first came into the spotlight in January 2017 when an article in The New Yorker titled “Doomsday prep for the super-rich” revealed that New Zealand is essentially like a Mecca for wealthy preppers. It’s remote, geopolitically stable, and sparsely populated. What is important is that it could also become completely self-sufficient in terms of water, food and energy if required.
A year earlier, Sam Altman, the former president of the prestigious Y-Combinator accelerator program, told the same magazine he plans to fly to Thiel’s house in New Zealand in the event of a pandemic.
It is unclear which house Altman was referring to, as Thiel owned a number of properties in New Zealand over the years, albeit on significantly smaller lots. This includes a four-bedroom house in neighboring Queenstown, which he bought for $ 4.8 million in 2011 and then equipped with a panic room after a fire. He also owns property in Auckland.
Thiel’s love for Aotearoa
Thiel’s love for Aotearoa (the Maori name for the country) goes back a long way.
According to an in-depth investigation by the New Zealand Herald, the serial entrepreneur first visited New Zealand in 1995 at the age of 28.
He is also a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed in New Zealand. At least five of his stores have names inspired by JRR Tolkien’s novels. For example, Palantir is named for the seven eye stones in “The Lord of the Rings” that can be used to communicate with others, while his VC company Mithril Ventures is named for a metal in the Fantasy series that “protect” can. and be “transformative”.
When it comes to preparation, Thiel said he was influenced by a 1997 book entitled “The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State,” according to The Guardian.
“New Zealand is already a utopia,” Thiel told Business Insider in 2011. In his application for citizenship, he said he had “found no other country that better suits my vision of the future than New Zealand”.