London-based studio reveals celebration of British society and technology in a vessel designed for the people but fits for a king. When the British government invited designs for a new National Flagship – a replacement for the former Royal Yacht Britannia – it was an opportunity for Vitruvius Yachts and its collaborative team, called Team FestivAl, to combine their considerable knowledge and experience to create something extraordinary – a new flagship designed for the people but fit for a king.
With the government deciding to halt the project, the team – whose vessel was shortlisted as a finalist in the design competition – is showcasing their previously confidential proposal, highlighting not only the ingenuity of their design but also throwing a spotlight on the extraordinary depth and diversity of British industry and society, amply reflected in the design itself. The design comes from Team FestivAl, a collaboration between London-based, award-winning yacht design studio Vitruvius Yachts, world-renowned architecture practice Zaha Hadid Architects, and aluminium ship and yacht specialists Ocean. Key features include a focus on sustainable power and propulsion, a highly efficient hull design to minimise fuel consumption and maximise opportunities for emerging green technologies to create a zero-carbon vessel, an interior based on recycled and recyclable materials, and a flexible deck and interior design that can switch between exhibition showcase or floating embassy with ease, suitable for everyone from VVIPs to schoolchildren and the disabled.
Spearheaded by Vitruvius Yachts’ Philippe Briand – one of the world’s leading yacht designers and a naval architect for both sail and motor yachts – Team FestivAl’s National Flagship project draws on several cultural and societal cues, from innovation and sustainability to accessibility and inclusion, to represent the very best of British in design, manufacturing, craftsmanship and diversity. Indeed, in developing the design, the essence of Britishness takes centre stage through a Union flag ribbon motif in the side and plan view elevations while reflecting the multicultural society that defines the UK today.
The best of British design and craftsmanship – Both the exterior and interior designs have been created to portray national identity and showcase the very best of British design and craftsmanship. The sleek exterior profile includes a distinctive central slice through the superstructure that takes the form of a hoop of glass, flooding the interior with light and providing a key design element that, combined with a distinct LED-lit style line in the profile, hints at the ribbon pattern in the Union flag. This is reinforced in the design when viewed from above. The interior has been conceived to give each area its own identity while creating a cohesive, holistic overarching theme that represents British creativity, craftsmanship, decoration, furniture and artefacts. A simple graphic representation of the vessel’s side profile resembling the Union flag ribbon is a design motif that is repeated throughout the interior.
Flexibility and Inclusion – Central to the vessel’s design is accessibility across all decks and areas. The wraparound glass of the atrium provides a great sense of light and space and delivers plenty of natural light for the visually impaired. Access routes throughout the vessel have been considered with people of all ages and all levels of ability or disability in mind. “The flagship collaboration was an incredible opportunity to act as an architect realising the design of a project that was hugely complex because it aims to represent not the tastes of one person but the essence of an entire nation,” Briand enthuses. “That is actually way more difficult than designing for even the most demanding individual!”
Indeed, Team FestivAl’s National Flagship is more than just a design exercise – it is a celebration of the UK as a vibrant and inclusive multicultural society, as a hotbed of design, engineering and manufacturing, and as a nation with a rich seafaring heritage and a world-leading future as a developer of sustainable technologies.
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Article edit by Karl Webber
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