For some people, a house is four walls and a roof. Others see it as a more elaborate structure, with balconies, his-and-her bathrooms and maybe a swimming pool, if the budget allows. And then there are the homeowners who, for one reason or another, want to make their homes so ridiculously impregnable that they stop resembling cozy houses and start sprouting features that would make most actual war bunkers pale in comparison. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the best examples of that last category: Homes that are so heavily guarded that it seems like overkill.
10. The KWK Safe House
You’ve probably seen this one, even if you don’t recognize the name. This is the elaborate concrete structure the internet is fond of calling “the zombie-proof house.” The reality, as always, is both more complex and more boring: The KWK Safe House is actually a Polish architectural office’s example of a truly safe house. This two-story residential building’s most famous feature is the exterior walls, which can be moved to either completely close the house away from the environment … or open it fully to connect it with nature.
Though the house’s “closed” state is definitely the beef of this particular burger when it comes to zombie enthusiasts, the true point of the cuboid building seems to be variety: While it can be closed into a tight, monolithic block that offers complete privacy, the house’s “open” state is a surprisingly airy affair, full of windows, terraces and balconies that let light in and allow you to step right outside. The interior views of the “open” state show that the building is borderline transparent, with floor-to-ceiling windows on almost every side. Still, when those zombies eventually do attack, you’re pretty hard-pressed to find a more secure hideout than the KWK Safe House in its “closed” state.
9. The Atlas Missile Silo House
At first glance, this particular building seems more cozy than guarded. After all, how secure could an idyllic wooden house in Saranac, New York be when push really comes to shove?
The answer: Not very secure. However, the Cold War-era missile silo right underneath it is another matter entirely. (For the record, the actual missiles have long been removed.) The Atlas Missile Silo House was built in 1960 and actually served as a control center for the aforementioned silo, which has long since been decommissioned, but some aspiring real estate developers have turned the accessible parts of the underground structure into living accommodations. Tons of blast doors and original control panels remain, which makes the site a perfect bomb shelter type of home. To top things off, the overground parts of the property are very secluded, and feature a runway along with a couple of other buildings, so even if living in underground security isn’t your thing, the site has the makings of a very well-defended doomsday prepper compound.
8. The Rice House
The Rice House Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia advertises itself as a “presidential diplomatic compound,” but the sales pitch carefully glosses over whether actual presidents or diplomats have ever used it. Regardless of the building’s political merits, one thing is certain: The Rice House is one of the most secure locations in the country.
At a glance, the building looks like your ordinary mega-mansion, but apart from the usual follies of the rich (such as infinity pools, personal bowling alleys and massive car vaults), every single nook and cranny of the Rice House has been crammed full of absurd safety features, all of them cleverly embedded in the architecture because as the house’s website puts it, “one cannot defeat what cannot be seen.” The house is full of secret entrances, fortified doors, windows, and ballistic panels. Master and guest bedrooms are basically panic rooms, and there’s a 15,000 square-foot bunker in case things go really badly. The house can be put in lockdown remotely from anywhere in the world, and there’s even a push button that will spray unwary attackers with tear gas. Oh, and in case the initial assault doesn’t convince the enemy that the Rice House is not to be messed with, an adequately stocked owner can just hole up in the building indefinitely: The house is equipped with off-the-grid power and gets its water from three 1,000-foot deep artesian wells.
7. Indian Creek Island
Indian Creek Island is a “secret,” ultra-secure island in Miami, Florida that offers so much security to the people willing to pay for it that Forbes calls it the “billionaire bunker.” Some of the world’s richest people pay millions and millions to acquire one of the island’s properties, and with only 40 of them to go around, it’s easy to imagine that the market gets pretty hot. Currently, the most expensive plot on the island costs $47 million, and was bought by a mysterious Russian buyer in 2012.
The rarity of the available property parcels and the island’s exclusivity aren’t the only things that are attracting buyers. A private police force patrols Indian Creek’s shores 24/7 with boats, jeeps and jet skis, and even the sole entrance of the island’s exclusive and hyper-private 18-hole golf course is guarded extremely heavily.
6. Eugene Tssui’s “world’s safest house”
Eugene Tssui is the kind of guy who likes to wear a cape and has a resume to back up his fashion choices. He’s a professor, author, Harvard University research scholar, flamenco guitarist, concert pianist, inventor, noted amateur boxer and gymnastics champion … and, as luck would have it, an architect with a penchant for strange and unique designs. One of his most famous creations is a building he calls the world’s safest house.
He built the house as a home for his elderly parents, and as such, his version of a heavily guarded home doesn’t feature armed guards. Instead, he focused on materials and designs that make the structure as disaster-proof as possible. The building’s design and properties both draw inspiration from one of nature’s sturdiest creatures, the tardigrade. The organic-looking ridges on the surface hide tubing that allows hot air to flow around the house, which combined with the wrinkly surface of the house would carry heat up and away from the house, which Tssui says renders the building completely fireproof.
The sailfish-style fin directs water and strong winds away from the windows and doors, preventing any indoor flooding and storm damage. Furthermore, the house is made from Rastra, a special concrete blend that’s infused with compressed recyclable coffee cups. This material allows increased resistance for fire, flooding, termites and mildew, and also works as a sound insulator. Finally, the supporting structures are Structo-lite, a form of hyperstrong plaster that “bends, flexes and adjusts,” which should help the house survive earthquakes.
5. Kim Jong-un’s residences
Whenever the world’s most heavily guarded things are discussed, North Korea’s “beloved leader” Kim Jong-un dusts off his best jacket and squares his shoulders, because he’s bound to make an appearance at some point of the conversation. This list is no exception, as Kim has multiple highly secure residences that are guarded by both architectural means and his 100,000-man personal army.
Details about Kim’s assorted homes are just as few and far between as, well, everything else about North Korea. We know that his main accommodation is the Ryonsong Palace, but at least a dozen other leaders’ residences have been identified (and chances are there are others). One of these palaces is so opulent that it features a huge, 1,000-seat movie theater for the dictator to keep up with cinematic masterpieces such as Godzilla. Kim is fond of frequently renovating his properties at high cost while his people are struggling to get by. In 2010, he built an opulent mansion near Pyongyang to serve as his family home, but apparently it didn’t meet his standards after he inherited the Great Leader seat from his father: In 2015, it was completely torn down and construction started anew.
4. The Corbi residence
Al Corbi is a security expert who was also involved in making the Rice House the ultra-secure compound it is, so it’s no surprise his own home in the Hollywood Hills is one of the more heavily guarded buildings out there. Its white, artwork covered walls make the house look like your average multi-million home typical to the area, but everything else about it make it seem like the secret headquarters of a spy organization.
The Corbi family has no keys to the house, and doesn’t need them thanks to biometric recognition software at the entrance. The building is impervious to earthquakes, thanks to sturdy caissons of concrete that go 30 feet deep. Its residents are equally impervious to outside attackers thanks to assorte surveillance equipment that can spot an intruder practically a mile away. Even if someone would manage to break in, the Corbis are in little danger, because the house actually contains a smaller, even more secure house within itself: Apart from the ordinary living areas, the sleeping quarters are nested within an ultra-secure 2,500-square-foot space that is essentially a completely ballistics-proof suite. Corbi calls this a “safe core.”
3. Ira Rennert’s Hamptons Mansion
When a mansion built by a junk bond billionaire comes with a reported cost of $248 million, you know that the security is probably going to be slightly more than a guard dog and a nosy neighbor with 9-1-1 on speed dial. Articles about Ira Rennert’s controversial 62,000-square-feet Hamptons mansion are rich with descriptions about the details of the building itself, but surprisingly light about the details of its security. Still, that doesn’t mean that the building is exactly unguarded, as witnessed first hand by a Mother Jones reporter who attempted to take a look at the mansion: A security guard jumped out of an actual bush and threatened to have him arrested before he even got close.
Even without factual figures about the mansion’s security, just looking at its vastness and opulence should convince anyone that you can’t get anywhere near the area without a sizable private army. The Hamptons mansion is reported to have up to 29 bedrooms and 39 bathrooms, a 91-foot-long dining room, a 164-seat theater, a $150,000 hot tub, and a vast amount of assorted sports courts and swimming pools. Rennert also owns a massive art collection that’s worth an estimated $500 million, and he has plans to build a museum on the premises to house the collection.
2. Bill Gates’ house
As one of the most notorious tech billionaires and the former richest man in the world, Bill Gates is in prime position to build one of the most secure houses in existence, and his Washington mansion certainly lives up to the hype. The mansion, which Gates calls Xanadu 2.0 as an homage to Citizen Kane, is a luxurious dwelling that’s so large, he had to commission an artificial stream across the premises just to make sure the water runoffs from the retaining walls wouldn’t be a problem.
Unsurprisingly, the house is full of top-notch technology, and a combination of sensors, wearable tech and hidden gadgets enable the Gates family and their guests to adjust absolutely everything in the room when they feel like it, from music to lighting and temperature. You can even change the artwork on the walls at the touch of a button. Oh, and he had this tech already back in the 1990s, when the rest of the world was still trying to figure out the internet. Other, less tech-oriented amenities of the Gates house include a room full of trampolines, a giant library with secret bookshelves that reveal a hidden bar, and a 60-foot pool that’s so large it features both outdoor and indoor sections.
The security systems of the place are understandably played a little closer to the chest, but when they go all out, they go all out. When Gates’ house hosted a party for the National Governors Association in 2004, the whole estate was circled by a giant temporary security zone that blocked access to large parts of Lake Washington. For extra security, the attendees had to arrive by boat.
1. Kim and Kanye’s super-secure mansion
You’d expect that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West live in some sort of a fairy tale castle, but in reality, their home in the appropriately named Hidden Hills, California is more of a fortress. Visitors must navigate multiple security checks just to get to the front door, which one visitor notes looks like “it might be lowered over a moat.” The $60 million home is heavily guarded by a security team that watches over the celebrity family around the clock, and also accompanies them wherever they go. As a final touch, they have a security pod in their garage that is manned and on high alert at all hours, which one would imagine makes things really difficult when they want to open a champagne bottle and an armed guard bursts in as soon as the cork pops.
To be fair, there is a reason behind the couple’s interest in security. In 2017, Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint at a Paris hotel, which not only made her realize that her Instagram lifestyle is far too easy to track, but caused her to do a complete overhaul when it came to the security needs in her life.