There’s a sense of inevitability about the news that Zaha Hadid Architects has designed her first superyacht. Having moved slowly and inexorably into the orbits of the super-rich – be it through the elaborate furniture design created for Established & Sons or, more recently, a design for a high-end villa just outside Moscow – the architecture of Zaha Hadid has gone beyond the parametrically-driven creation of new forms and entered a new phase of cultural domination.
That the undeniably dynamic and vital nature of Hadid’s architecture should have finally caught the eye of the international elite is no surprise. Up until now, Zaha’s formally adventurous product design – be it for cars, tables, wine bottles, vases or jewellery – has played second fiddle to her architecture. Arguably, a yacht combines the two, being nothing more than a mobile building of exquisite complexity and craftsmanship.
The superstructure of a yacht is a perfect canvas for the Hadid aesthetic. Working in collaboration with German shipyard Blohm + Voss, the architect’s concept actually embraces six yachts, with a ‘Unique Circle’ of five individually designed 90m yachts spawned from a 128m ‘mothership’ at the heart of the flotilla.
Words like fluidity and biology make perfect sense here, for the mothership is avant-garde and mould-breaking, quite unlike any boat design before or since. The lattice-like forms that wrap around the mothership’s hull are classic evocations of the forms that have emerged from Hadid’s architecture studio over the past two decades, while the extensive use of composite materials in boat-building offers up endless possibilities for seamless structural shapes.
The first of the 90m yachts, the Jazz, has been shaped up into a fully workable design. The superyacht industry has been relatively slow to translate some of the wilder conceptual excesses of the digital era into reality; it took Starck’s ‘A’, designed for Andrey Melnichenko, and Venus, for the late Steve Jobs, to really cement the idea that a boat could be even more of a canvas for (expensive) expression than a house. Arguably Hadid has gone one further, embracing the new parameters of naval architecture with gusto.
Blohm + Voss is one of the world’s major superyacht builders, having been responsible for Starck’s ‘A’ as well as many others, thanks to its superlative facilities and close connections with designers of every stripe around the world. Whether the Jazz will eventually head down the slipway and off into a charmed life of charters and quayside dinners remains to be seen. But the combination of B&V and Zaha Hadid is a compelling one, and we don’t doubt that someone, somewhere will be tempted to bring this extraordinary piece of aquatic architecture to life, whatever the cost.