Project Utopia breaks the naval architectural mould
By Mike Hanlon
September 21, 2011
The concept of a floating island is not new, having first surfaced in Homer's Odyssey and making countless appearances in literature from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, C. S. Lewis' science fiction trilogy Perelandra, Hugh Lofting's The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922) and the first artificially-constructed floating island makes an appearance in an 1895 novel by the father of science fiction, Frenchman Jules Verne.Illustrated Jules Verne
Verne's L'Île à hélice (Propeller Island) might not have enjoyed as much popularity as some of his other works such as Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - published in 1870), De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865), Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth - 1864), and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days - 1873), but like most of the inventions he once constructed in his vivid imagination, it either has already or looks set to "come to pass".
Since Verne's first imaginings 120 years ago, activity has been quite on the man-made island front, with the first sign of new thought emerging four years ago in the form of WallyIsland from Italian yacht builders Wally.
Even more recently, a bespoke floating island manufacturer has emerged in the form of Yacht Island designs, which has so far given us The Streets of Monte Carlo, a 500 ft yacht that looks to "reflect the style and sophistication of the principality" and includes a fully functional go kart circuit that recreates the famous Monaco Grand Prix circuit along with other Monaco landmarks, and more recently, Tropical Island Paradise, a 295 ft (90 m) island with a top speed of 15 knots and its own waterfall and volcano.
Yacht Island designs looks set to be the primary producer of man-made floating islands, with services that range from concept creation through to the above-mentioned proprietary designs, plus several others awaiting release - Oriental Chuan which will be a modern interpretation of a massive Chinese Junk, and Eastern Promise, and Arabian-themed superyacht.
Everything prior to now though, has a yacht as its basis, with a design theme superimposed on a traditional naval architecture.
That's where the company's latest concept, Project Utopia, is so very different. Project Utopia has more in common with an oil rig than it does with a yacht, and in the word's of the consultancy, "breaks the traditional naval architectural mould which the market has come to expect and offers a truly unique outlook free from any conventional design constraints."
Designed in conjunction with BMT Nigel Gee, Yacht Island Design's Project Utopia measures some 330 ft (100 m) in length and breadth, spans 11 decks and has the equivalent floorspace of a present-day cruise liner - indeed, and I'm sure this will be a draw-card to any aspiring wealthy megalomaniacs, there is enough space to create an entire micro-nation.
First and foremost, the island's design is stable, being based on a four legged platform and designed for minimum motion in the most extreme sea conditions. Each leg supports a fully azimuthing thruster and with four such units, the design can redeploy between desired locations at slow speed.
BMT Nigel Gee describes the Utopia as "not an object to travel in, it is a place to be", perhaps indicating that you'd be best off having minions relocate the yacht before jetting in and doing the last stint via helicopter.
A large central structure bisects the water surface acting as the conduit for the mooring system, as well as housing a wet dock for access by tenders. In addition to tender access, the design features four helicopter pads.
The amount of space on board Utopia could be used in many ways - it is currently envisioned as a mix retail districts, theaters, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and a casino, but it could be refashioned for almost any purpose, and relocated anywhere of your choosing.
There's also an observatory deck 213 ft (65 m) above sea level with 360 degree views.