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Superyacht concepts get the Zaha Hadid treatment


October 17, 2013

Zaha Hadid's master concept

Zaha Hadid's master concept

Image Gallery (18 images)

Her work may have its critics, but you can't fault the consistency of her design language. Even those with the most fleeting of interests in architecture and design cannot fail to recognize that this yacht design for Blohm+Voss has Zaha Hadid written all over it.

The concept, newly revealed as part of an exhibition of Hadid's work at the David Gill Gallery in London, is for a 128-m (420-ft) superyacht, along with a set of five 90-m (295-ft) yachts which, according to the Blohm+Voss press release "creatively explore the design philosophies of the master prototype."

The seemingly organic lattices are supposedly evocative of "natural marine formations," and though that may be true, the same can surely be said of her prior designs for the Nuragic and Contemporary Art Museum in Cagliari, Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre and Zephyr Sofa. This yacht fits comfortably into the lattice-y subset of her uniquely curvilinear oeuvre.

It sounds as though the master prototype sets out the design intent, whereas the five companion designs are practical, buildable interpretations. One of these sub-designs, named Jazz, has apparently been fully specced-out by Blohm+Voss. And, "four further 90m yachts have been designed to fulfil [sic] the different requirements and individual requests of their designated owners," so perhaps all five will one day make it onto the high seas.

A specification for a 90-m yacht included with the press release lists these additional details:

  • Beam (max): 16 m (52 ft)
  • Draught: 4.2 m (13 ft)
  • Maximum speed: 16 knots (30 km/h)
  • Cruising speed: 14 knots (26 km/h)
  • Range: 5,000 MM (presumably a typo for nautical miles, and not millimeters. That would make it 9,260 km)
  • Class: Lloyd's Register
  • Propulsion: 2 x 2,160 kW diesel, via gearbox to fixed prop
  • Maneuvering system: 1 x bow thruster
  • Sources: Zaha Hadid Architects, Blohm+Voss

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

It looks like an alien water craft on a distant aquatic world. It has a very scify look to it. It is both beautiful and odd at the same time.


Simply stunning. This woman's vision fascinates me.


I find it hard to believe that people would buy something that ugly.


It's clearly a baby Wraith hive-ship.

Marco McClean

That is the most hideous thing I've ever seen.

It looks like something in the latter stages of decomposition.


Beautiful design, With the modernness of the look I would have expected to see some consideration given to alternative/ renewable energy systems to operate the vessel.

Rain Tree

A truly interesting but intriguing design. I wonder what will be the views of the structural engineers on the shapes on the basis of aerodynamics and the wind drag ? Or is it that considering the low (16/14 knots?) speeds the drag may not be a factor worth paying attention to ? Or the beautifying outer structure will also be of aerofoil design ? At any rate, a good and novel design .

Er. A.K.Mittal

I like that it has such an abundance of windows.

Stanley Owens

Interesting design but the performance is pathetic. All show and no go. It's just a pretty party barge. No ocean going ship should be slower than 20 knots cruising. For what it probably costs, 30 knots would be better.


Certainly stunning in appearance but appears to lack practicality. What's it's mode of propulsion as it probably requires gross quantities of energy to move. Why not make it an advanced hybrid (sailboat/engine). Use computers to generate models for the appropriate size, quantity, and placement of mast and sails that could be made of graphene or synthetic diamonds with Teflon (like the curtains on the Austrians winning design for the solar decathlon- with out the permeability). Then have the deck and even perhaps parts of the hull and anywhere exposed to light covered with solar panels. Then also when moored/anchored maybe the masts could have retractable wind turbines inside them that could capture more energy (if not in the mast then retractable stand alone turbines). With the size of that beast I image there could be a decent sized green house for increased independence inside the cabin or under the bilge which would be under an advanced engine that perhaps could capture solar/wind power to dehydrogenation plant the power a hydrogen engine that would emit more water for the green house, passengers, and fuel. If not at least an electric engine that captures solar and wind to occasionally supplement sails. Expensive of course but given the grandeur of Zaha's design, why not?


It looks like the sinewy face of Freddie Krueger and the interior has all the warmth of an operating room on the Starship Enterprise. It has been said the two happiest days in a yachtsman's life is when he buys a boat and the day he sells it. Every owner knows the provenance of the major boats and I doubt if anyone would want to admit he purchased this white elephant off the pre-owned market.

Bruce Williams

Words cannot describe the ugliness....

Was it inspired by a long-beached whale?

More Money will never buy more Class....


the thing can't even hit hull speed!! It should at least do 1.2x's hull speed for that size ship.

Side wind area is not good and I hope it has powered stabilizers as it will need them for it'll rolling at sea.

You could have a far better yacht as a 150' catamaran or 200' trimaran with the same room and not the performance hits with at least 2x's the speed for the same power. And far more comfortable, stable.


A very futuristic design, and I commend Zaha for that, but do designers ever take into account the functionality of their work?

I see this as an engineering nightmare. A structural engineer would have a very difficult time keeping this boat sea worthy while balancing the weight and rigidness at certain points. An aerospace engineer would laugh at the project, as the pictures seem to suggest no regard to wind drag, and a nautical engineer would laugh with him/her, as the estimated specs of the whale support wind and sea instability.

Don't get me wrong, I love Zaha's work. She designs very sci-fi looking projects, and I dream of having her build my home. Yet when the project proposed is in motion, many more factors come into play.

Brian Knippa
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