The future of superyacht design
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 25/10/2016
Working at the heart of the superyacht industry, yacht designers and naval architects alike often face an uphill battle when it comes to altering the face of yacht design, battling budgets, tight timeframes and restricting regulations.
Predicting the future of yacht design is therefore a difficult challenge, with uncertainties about which concepts will make it to construction, and which will be thwarted by owner or classification society, but the signs of change are upon us.
With the rise of the next generation of superyacht owner with increasing environmental concerns, and with young newcomers arriving with interest in technological innovation, we are seeing the boundaries of conventional yacht design transformed, making room for exciting possibilities within the sector.
Yachting Pages investigates future design trends, and uncovers the innovative materials that are transforming yacht design as we know it.
In recent years, the classic demographic of the superyacht owner is changing. We have known the average age of a yacht owner to be around 63 years old in years gone by, however, with the recovery from the economic crash of 2008, we are seeing an increasing amount of young owners entering the market place. Now, with a number of UHNWI’s in their twenties, there is an apparent focus on environmental and sustainability among those commissioning today’s new build yachts.
The glamorous yachting world is not considered eco-friendly; however with the increasing pressure to go ‘green’, it is now striving to become more environmentally friendly through ergonomic design, renewable energy sources and sustainable materials.
Presented to the industry in May 2009, sailing yacht Soliloquy still holds the title of one of the world’s greenest luxury yachts. Soliloquy is a radical 58m, rigid-wing superyacht concept developed by Alastair Callender of Callender Designs. Once built, she will be powered by wind, solar and Hybrid Marine Power (HMP) technologies from Solar Sailor Holdings Ltd. Pushing the boundaries of conventional yacht design, S/Y Soliloquy is a prime example that the future is still pointing to clean, eco-friendly yacht design.
Futuristic concept designs
Alongside super-green initiatives, the future yacht owner is looking towards innovative and exciting designs that transform the look and performance of the superyacht as we know and love her today.
Speaking with JustLuxe.com, Stefano Pastrovich of Pastrovich Studio explained that he saw the future superyacht losing a deck, moving away from concepts with many decks that are identical to each other and instead moving into what he names to be a ‘single volume object’ with no decks visible from the exterior. His concept designs, Sveti and Alien (pictured below left) are examples of his future ideal.
On the other hand, we have seen Florida yacht broker, 4Yacht planning what could become the biggest luxury yacht in the world. At 192m LOA, the Double Century concept boasts nine decks, needing a crew of up to 100 to manage her and affording her the title of ‘gigayacht’. There is also a scaled-up concept, which is even larger at 225m LOA.
Alternatively, we have seen designers at Lobanov altering the traditional yacht deck layout, removing the traditional tiered profile as Pastrovich suggests, but instead concluding in one large point in the centre. Encased within a canopy-like shell, the Lobanov Star concept (picured above right) houses 27 square feet of interior space across eight concealed, tiered floors. Navigated by three elevators, she accommodates 36 overnight guests or 200 day guests.
Looking somewhat like a spaceship, and taking full advantage of technical innovations within the sector, the futuristic three-hulled catamaran, Adastra (pictured below left) can be piloted with the aid of an iPad or tablet, when the captain is within 50m of the vessel. Designed by John Shuttleworth, she has nine decks and is often described as a spaceship.
Providing an opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds, the Flying Cruiser concept (pictured above right) by British-designer Pauley can rise up out of the water and race along at more than 100mph. She is the only model of the four concepts within the space-age Cruiser range that can fly, changing shape as her wings emerge from the side of the hull. Another of the concepts can also seal up like a submarine, diving below the water to cruise.
Above and below water
First designed in 2001 by the Giancarlo Zema Design Group, Trilobis 65 (pictured below right) is still on the cutting edge of yacht design. Still yet to be realised, she sits above the water in a futuristic bubble while also offering a rounded underwater viewing platform or observation deck below the water, giving her a total of four decks.
The late British Architect, Zaha Hadid created a fleet of five unique yachts, collectively called Unique Circle (Jazz Yacht pictured below right). At 90m LOA, and sloping towards the extraterrestrial end of the scale, the designs are eye-catchingly alien with an interwoven network of supports. Speaking of the design, Zara explained the unique framework was created to resemble the skeletal structure of marine animals.
The recent advancement of glass technology is radically changing the look of superyachts the world over. Windows have become larger, placed closer together and have played a far more prominent role in styling.
Since Jon Bannenberg’s pioneering use of glass in his designs for M/Y Paraiso (47m) and M/Y Azteca (72m) back in 1983, many studies have been conducted into the ability of load bearing glass.
In more recent years, one of the most acclaimed uses of glass is the head-turning collaboration of the late Apple owner, Steve Jobs with his designer Philippe Starck and the Feadship shipyard. The use of glass within M/Y Venus (79m) has received the most attention, with her giant windows on the pavilion deck opening up new doors for superyacht design.
Most recently, the launch of M/Y Como (46m) again drew attention to the use of glass, with unprecedented large windows in her hull and a wealth of glass within the superstructure.
Bram Jongepier, from the knowledge development division at Feadship said, “Here the superstructure glass is placed on top of the metal rather than being set into it, creating a continuous surface. These glazed side panels give uninterrupted views from the owner’s stateroom and the exceptionally large windows in the hull go way beyond what is permissible from a regulation point of view.”
While in 2015 carbon fibre is no longer considered to be a ‘new’ material for the superyacht sector, the benefits are only now starting to circulate throughout the industry. The golden nugget; reduced weight results in reduced power, resulting in lower fuel bills for the owner and lower impact on the environment.
Unveiled at the 2015 Palm Beach Boat Show, project QuadraDeck is Danish Yachts’ and Bradford Marine’s latest carbon fibre superyacht. Resulting in a fuel saving of about 20% when compared to more conventional materials such as aluminium, and lower maintenance costs thanks to carbon fibre’s strength and lightweight qualities, making this superyacht efficient, attractive and functional.
Yacht concept design
Concept designs fuel our imagination and pave the way for the future of superyacht design and innovation. This next generation of yachts will challenge the way owners and shipbuilders think.
This year’s promising superyacht concepts, revealed at the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show, include Mulder Designs' 72m MD 236 motoryacht; Echo Yachts' radical new 120m trimaran, and Oliver Stacey's sail-assisted motoryacht, Norse.