If you thought Versailles, a foreclosure-burdened, Louis XIV-inspired mega-mansion outside of Orlando that never reached completion screams "reckless spending," then check out this apartment in central Dublin built for 1.4 billion euros ($1.82 billion). Or, I should say, built from 1.4 billion euros.
While Versailles represents a bloated, 23-bathroom vision of the American dream gone sour, this particular property, the Billion Euro House, is symbolic of Ireland's own financial struggles in the wake of a massive property bubble that, post-crash, rendered the former "Celtic Tiger" helpless and in need of a bailout from the EU. If you haven't caught on yet, the Billion Euro House didn't actually cost 1.4 billion euro to construct ... it was actually built for next to nothing using largely recycled materials including a couple of trailer-fulls of decommissioned euro bank notes.
Frank Buckley, the artist behind/resident of the Billion Euro House, was a victim of Ireland's housing nightmare himself. Despite having no steady income, Buckley was able to purchase a 365,000 euro ($450,000) house located on the outskirts of Dublin on a 100 percent loan during the peak of the bubble in the late 2000s. You can probably see where this is going. Long story short, Buckley's home lost one-third of its value in the Irish recession and to complicate matters, he separated from his wife and she gave him the boot. Plus, Buckley lost a friend to the crash. Well, in the great Irish tradition of strife-borne creativity, Buckley turned the very source of his troubles into something good: A new (temporary) home.
Located in an abandoned office building, Buckley's three-room (bedroom, living room, bathroom) digs came to life thanks to the Central Bank of Ireland. The national mint granted him permission to take 1.4 billion euro off of their hands and transform it into the bricks, each of which measure about 6"x 2" and contain 40 to 50 thousand shredded euros. In addition to the brick walls made from recycled currency, shredded euros also litter the floor of the Billion Euro House, a project that Buckley calls "a reflection of the whole madness that gripped us." Symbolic sure, but apparently Buckley's choice of building materials is quite efficient as well. The Billion Euro House stays so warm that Buckley is able to sleep sans blanket. "Whatever you say about the euro, it's a great insulator," he says.
Hear more about -- and take a tour of -- the Billion Euro House in the video embedded below. Plus, Buckley has launched a Billion Euro House website filled with images of the project and further info. This Flickr account is also worth checking out for more photos.