Yacht owners want to feel connected to the outside, yet protected from it - and so they look to glass. Feadship has been increasingly tasked with designing larger window areas, allowing guests more view of their environment. As ever, it’s fine Feadship engineering that will deliver clients’ dreams.

The use of glass in new builds at Feadship has almost doubled since 2012. Six years ago it was exceptional to have full height glass in lounges, now it’s the norm. The effect of having floor-to-ceiling windows on a yacht is an almost non-existent boundary between interior and exterior – a complete connection of surfaces that is pleasing to the eye. Arguably the most uplifting benefit, however, is the closer relationship with the yacht’s setting – jaw-dropping locations that can be seen in all their splendour, whether the guest is standing, sitting, or even lying on the floor. 

The challenges of bigger windows are manifold, and it falls to Bram Jongepier, Senior Specialist in Design at De Voogt Naval Architects, to meet them. During his 11 years in tenure, he’s broken new ground in the field for Feadship. “One profound piece of knowledge I’ve attained is that glass is not steel, it’s brittle like concrete,” he says, “You can do incredible things with it, but don’t use it like steel because it will break.” When a client asks for extremely large panes, a transparent swimming pool, or even a glass elevator, Bram’s team will find out in the earliest design phases how the ship deforms under stress. Using their unique analytical formula and a 3D finite element model, they ascertain the solutions they might need to make the concept work in reality. 

A major concern with glass is the heat load from the sun that in turn increases AC capacity: “We need the ultimate in both comfort and aesthetics, so double glazing is not an option because it gives reflections in your view,” explains Bram. De Voogt chooses laminated glass for 90% of a yacht’s windows. The many layers of laminate can be used for multiple purposes, such as reducing heat, creating tint or adding strength: “There’s a lot of technology in that glass,” says Bram.

Intelligent use of glass can also offer underwater vantage points. The Nemo Lounge onboard SAVANNAH features windows half above and half below the waterline allowing a view of marine life as the yacht cuts through the sea. On another yacht it’s the wine cellar that boasts underwater windows, and one of the latest deliveries includes an observation port above a propeller.

No windows have been as complex to deliver as those onboard the 79m VENUS. Launched in 2012, VENUS features a 30m deck with three windows of 2.6m by 10m. Each pane weighs 3 tonnes and was hoisted into place using a specially conceived counterbalancing system. These remain the largest windows on a yacht. The hull side windows were made perfectly flush using a 3D laser scanner. “Venus was exceptional,” admits Bram, “even for us.”

Feadship is known for design firsts, and De Voogt has bold ideas for the future. “With smart glazing, you can make the glass opaque or transparent at the touch of a button, and we’d like to incorporate solar yield into this,” says Bram. De Voogt now also has the expertise to create a wheelhouse without mullions or an observation deck without structure - the deck above would simply rest on load-bearing glass. “Technically we know it can be done,” says Bram, “but ultimately it’s the owner’s desire for something special that will drive Feadship – and the industry – to new heights.”

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