Why do architects think they can design a super yacht?

Successful and sought after super yacht designers, the likes of Tim Heywood, draw on their own understanding of ships, the sea and what is possible to build when they draw the lines of a conceptual vessel.  That understanding comes after years of working with shipyards, yacht owners and having sailed occasionally in yachts they have designed.  In short they know what works and what does not!
There is a very good reason why these highly successful yacht designers do not become involved in the architectural concepts of, say, skyscrapers.  The reason is that they do not fully understand the complex problems involved in making such a design, a reality.
Sure they can draw a skyscraper and give it perhaps a twist or a top floor balcony that overhangs the foot print on the ground but they have no idea about whether or not it will stand up to the winds a gale force 8 might inflict on the structure.  So very sensibly they stick to what they know and are good at.  So why, we ask, do the likes of the architect: Lord Foster, the Haute Couture fashion designer: Elie Saab and now the Pritzker prize-winning architect: Zaha Hadid think they can draw a super yacht?
Hadid has collaborated with the Hamburg-based shipbuilders Blohm + Voss to design a new super yacht.  The concept was launched recently at the David Gill Gallery in London where an exhibition of Zaha Hadid’s glass dining room tables is on display.
Launched as Unique Circle Yachts, the concept is based around the sculptural form of a master prototype conceived for a 128 metre yacht and creates a family of five individual 90 metre yachts that explore the design philosophies of the master prototype. 
The overall design is described as having been informed by fluid dynamics and underwater ecosystems, with hydrodynamic research informing the design of the hull. The exoskeleton structure of the upper section is an interwoven network of supports that vary in thickness and lend a natural aesthetic to the yacht’s external appearance; evoking the organic structural systems found in natural marine formations. This exoskeleton connects the various levels and decks of the ship seamlessly via expressive diagonals.  The press release states that the designs fall within the technical requirements of a fully-engineered yacht design.
In recent years Blohm + Voss has built many of the world’s most prestigious super yachts.  These include A the controversial design from Philippe Starck, Eclipse by Terence Disdale, along with Mayan Queen IV from Tim Heywood and Palladium by Michael Leach.  The 90 m Jazz is the first of the five concepts that have been technically specified and detailed by the naval architects at Blohm + Voss.
Speaking about the new concept at the unveiling Dr. Herbert Aly, CEO and Managing Partner of Blohm + Voss told those assembled: “The idea of the Unique Circle Yachts allows for variation of a genotype and its phenotypes, offering a range of possible solutions based on an cognate platform.”
Zaha Hadid explained “As a dynamic object that moves in dynamic environments, the design of a yacht must incorporate additional parameters beyond those for architecture – which all become much more extreme on water.”
Talking to us after the event, Tim Heywood told us, “We enjoyed the evening and wish all those involved great success with the project, I am always enthusiastic for anything that pushes our industry forward and introduces more people to yachting on the grand scale!”


  1. Having seen further pictures on the web recently, I’m forced to agree. Let’s hope that concept remains a concept and one that is soon forgotten too! If built, can you imagine trying to keep it clean?? Bonafide yacht designers sometimes come up with challenging ideas too but at least you can reason and work with them as they understand that a yacht’s primary function is to be a ship, albeit a beautiful one.


    Zaha Hadid, please stick to multi story car parks, BMW show rooms and other “interesting” buildings in future eh? There’s a dear!

    1. Fortunately nobody is actually suggesting that the “mothership” concept would ever work as a functioning vessel.
      There is as you say nowhere to hang fenders, no exhaust outlet, no tender doors, no navigation lights of communication domes, impossible to clean! Etc etc. ‎Probably wouldn’t even float!!

      But the B+V naval architects tell me they have worked very closely with Zaha Hadid to ensure that the “children” would “work”‎, could be built and meet all of the classification and safety standards and practical requirements of crew and guests.

      We shall see!

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