Is it art or is it kitsch? That's a question that will undoubtedly arise, if the “Castell'Arquato” ever moves off of the drawing board and into construction. Like its medieval predecessors, this castle is not intended to house peasants and other riffraff. With a price tag of about $6 million, it will be built only if the right ego comes along and falls in love with the concept. Paolo Tiramani, the eccentric designer who came up with the idea, isn't your typical architect. He designs everything from automobiles to luggage, and this over-the-top house is just another piece in his portfolio. Tiramani tackled the Castell'Arquato project after he successfully sold another extravagant property (a mere mansion), which he hyped and sold using the same one-shot marketing strategy.

“This model would not work if we wanted to build a dozen of them,” Tiramani says, “but we don't. We just want to build one to the highest specifications.”

The fantasy stone façade on the front of the house is intentional, according to the designers. That façade merely serves as an embellishment to the actual structure, which Tiramani describes as an “armor-plated box.” And the intent is to build the “box” using modular components that can be brought on site in nearly finished form. For the interiors, this means an unusual combination of purposeful medieval cliché with industrial minimalism. Does it work? That's up to the prospective buyers to decide.

The home will be marketed through The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, with a small picture ad that links to the Web site