The final part of the conversation between Luca Bassani Antivari, Pierre-Alexis Dumas and Gabriele Pezzini about WHY – Wally Hermes Yachts –the new company created by Wally and Hermes dedicated to a new art of living on the sea.
How did you approach the WHY project on a technical level?
Mauro Sculli I’ve been working with Luca Bassani for ten years. We’ve developed numerous boats together, and whether you’re talking about a 33-metre sailing boat like Kenora or the gas-turbine 118 Wallypower, I have always focused on performance, which has been a core value at Wally since the very beginning. For the WHY boat, performance comes on many different levels: stability, consumption, architecture, size and space. An amazing challenge! The goals for the project were defined by the very concept, which was made possible by our hull, the only hull that made sense for us to use. The challenge was nautical efficiency.
What kinds of difficulties did you encounter in designing this first boat?
M.S. Having lots of ideas! To avoid complications, you have to work methodically and be sure to take into account the existing technologies on land and sea, which all come together with this boat. For example, the procedures involved in integrating the architectural and decorative volumes obviously created problems, which we managed to resolve fairly quickly by rethinking the spaces.
What is the expected energy consumption?
M.S. In terms of size, this boat offers the same accommodation as a gigayacht that is close to 100 metres. Its propulsion is equal to that of a 65-metre boat and the energy needed to live on board is equal to that of a 58.5-metre boat. Our megayacht can function on only one third the amount of energy used for a 90-metre boat. As for the diesel-electric propulsion system, the idea was not to put it in the stern, which is where it normally goes on yachts, but rather in the bow. This is a revolutionary approach in the world of yachting. Using Ramform, the same tried-andtrue hull used for cable-handling ships, made it so that we had to totally overhaul the normal interior layout for the WHY boat. The engine room occupies the narrowest part of the boat, which has numerous advantages: better layout for inside volumes, improved comfort, less vibration and less noise in the living area.
Speaking of which, didn’t you intentionally complicate everything?
M.S. No, not at all! The hull we chose dictated the form, which gave way to the global concept initially proposed. All the standards were surpassed, outclassed, but that doesn’t make the WHY boat a “manifesto boat”. On the contrary.
Founded in 1972 in Paris by Rena Dumas, RDAI (Rena Dumas Architecture Intйrieure) mainly realises interior-architecture projects and has gradually made its mark in the worlds of architecture and design.
Executive chairman and Art Director of RDAI Born in Paris, Denis Montel is a graduate of the École d’Architecture de Paris-La Défense, a member of the Ordre des architectes français, and participated in numerous competitions before completing his degree. He held the position of project manager at Deleu & Associés and helped to design stores for Loewe, Boucheron and Mikimoto. Juggling several independent projects, including the Paris showroom for the designer Isabel Marant, Denis Montel met Rena Dumas in 1999 when she asked him to design the Hermès pavilion for the Basel Watch Fair. This initial project led to his joining RDAI and co-directing the design of Hermès stores worldwide, the Hermès Maisons in Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul and the extension of the group’s head office in Paris. He is currently supervising the expansion of the Hermès workshops in Pantin. Working with Rena Dumas, he also designed the Christie’s auction rooms in Paris and the head offices of Yves Saint Laurent and Artémis. RDAI now climbs aboard the WHY project and takes to the sea.
What sort of architectural vision did you have when you first saw the project?
Denis Montel When Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Luca Bassani Antivari and Gabriele Pezzini gave us the first images of the WHY boat, Rena Dumas and I didn’t see a yacht, but rather a territory that should be approached in the exact opposite way we normally approach our projects. First off, we didn’t want to look at what had already been done in terms of interior layouts for boats, even the most sophisticated ones. We wanted to look with fresh eyes at an unconventional space where creativity can really run wild despite the obvious limitations. We adopted a more conceptual approach that was initially spatial, and then looked into sensations, textures and ambiences using original materials. The challenge was to express the absolute perfection of Hermès and Wally in this common project, a project that is one-of-a-kind and totally new.
Does the interior architecture echo the inordinately large size of the boat?
D.M. No, not at all. The scale of the architecture and furnishings is human, fluid, natural. All the materials in the salons, as in the cabin-suites and the spa, respect a single leitmotif: a mat finish. Relacquered, sanded wood, calpinage effects for the parquet, leather casing, the furniture: everything is mat and, visually speaking, totally consistent with the aesthetic of the decks. It’s as if the decks are extended into the intimacy of the five cabins and their bathrooms with just a few lines of Chinese lacquer to intensify the textures. The interior as a whole had to exude a feeling of total comfort, elegance and relaxation, for the eyes and the body.
Does the concept of insularity play into the aesthetic of the boat?
D.M. There is nothing revolutionary about designing an interior architecture in harmony with the sea, sky, sun, wind and horizon by inviting these natural elements to come inside. It’s actually a strong trend in contemporary architecture today. It’s all about suggesting these elements, imperceptibly. Brainstorming this went hand in hand with researching a way to be organic, in the sense of pre-war Nordic architecture, like the work of Alvar Aalto, who excelled at highlighting the relationship between structures and nature. The projects of Mies van der Rohe spring from this same concern for tropism, which is especially in evidence in his contemporary idea, for the Barcelona pavilion, of three patios, which remained for ever a sketch and was never realised. Rena Dumas also liked this idea. For her, the patio was natural, a Mediterranean classic.
Did you also have to break the rule of full sunlight?
D.M. Structurally speaking, a boat makes for heavy shadows and very harsh light. Our job was to soften the harshness and dim the light using screen walls, caning and plant fibres. One idea led to another and, ultimately, the hull was modified. First, the three original portholes were transformed into large picture windows. Then the hull changed and became mostly windows, which is totally new for a boat.The “extraordinary” dimensions of the living spaces (36 metres wide and 28 metres long on the lower deck) led us to rethink the structure of these spaces; we wanted them to be intimate and to reveal all the depth of the volume. The combination of the three patios that run through the ship vertically and the large picture windows allowed us to create spectacular visual escapes, where inside and outside are natural extensions of each another. Finally, there’s no visible source of artificial lighting. Just LED technology built into the ceilings, controlled by a computer circuit that is programmed in 12-hour cycles according to outdoor luminosity and sun temperature.
Dimensions & capacity
Length Over All 58 m
Maximum speed 14 kn
Patios with skylights 3
Auxiliary propulsion system: SkySails®
Computerised energy management system
Optional green energy
Bilge water separator
Design and Development
WHY Design Team
Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Artistic Director, Hermès
Denis Montel, RDAI
ENERGY MANAGEMENT THAT RESPECTS THE ENVIRONMENT
The WHY yacht project has been designed to:
— optimise thermal insulation
Since a large part of the energy on board is used for air-conditioning, an innovative system that exploits lost electrical and thermal energy has been integrated into the yacht. (In comparison, a traditional air-conditioning system uses up to 100 times more electrical energy.) The renewable energy is generated through thermovoltaic panels and latest-generation wind turbines to obtain optimum performance. The energy is retrieved with incredible efficiency and is stored in latest-generation batteries and/or in the form of hydrogen, which does not release greenhouse gases.
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