BIRTH OF A
DREAM

Bringing Renaissance to reality

Wide, close-up shot of side of Renaissance

It took four decades of experience and imagination, and two generations of the Bannenberg design dynasty to bring 112-metre Freire yacht Renaissance to reality. Risa Merl steps on board to discover a yacht that’s both highly personal and made for charter

DAVID CHURCHILL

Nearly 40 years ago, legendary designer Jon Bannenberg penned a yacht that never left the drawing board. The would-be client went on to spend decades chartering in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, slowly refining a long checklist of everything they would want in their future yacht.

When it was finally time to build it, and with Bannenberg no longer with us, they turned to none other than Jon’s son at Bannenberg & Rowell Design. Forged by 35 years of charter experience, the 112-metre Freire-built Renaissance was born. Incredibly voluminous with an imaginative layout and clever features, Renaissance is not only one owner’s long-awaited dream boat, but a yacht that will have wide appeal on the charter market too.

Renaissance from the side and front on the water

COURTESY BURGESSRenaissance was built to Passenger Yacht Code and, as such, can take up to 36 guests on charter

COURTESY BURGESSRenaissance was built to Passenger Yacht Code and, as such, can take up to 36 guests on charter

“Dickie Bannenberg’s father, Jon, had designed a yacht for me way back in 1987 that never got built,” confirms the owner of Renaissance. “About 10 years ago, I hooked up with Dickie, and while my wife and I interviewed other yacht designers, Dickie and Simon [Rowell] best captured our thinking and converted it into a reality. Being able to work with Jon’s son was simply serendipitous.”

Bannenberg & Rowell have designed for children of Jon’s clients – including two yachts and two properties ashore – but this was a different kind of a project.

“It certainly was a full-circle moment,” says Dickie Bannenberg, company leader at Bannenberg & Rowell Design. “In fact, the client still has Jon’s original profile drawing of the rather more compact 42-metre that he designed for him.”

View from side showing all the decks in profile

COURTESY BURGESSMeasured by volume, Renaissance is the 29th largest yacht afloat today

COURTESY BURGESSMeasured by volume, Renaissance is the 29th largest yacht afloat today

The through-line on this project stops at the Bannenberg name. Renaissance stands on her own, and indeed stands out among most yachts on the water today thanks to her immense proportions. “The volume of the yacht hits you right away,” says the owner.

“We had a long list of non-negotiables: a large gym, lots of cabins, high ceilings, lots of places to eat, a very large beach club...”

With a gross tonnage of 7,200GT, she is the 29th-largest yacht ranked by volume out of all yachts currently delivered. Yet despite being a behemoth of a vessel, Renaissance presents a streamlined and elegant profile. She also manages to be roomy without feeling cavernous and puts a priority on privacy while offering accommodation for a host of guests.

View of Renaissance from the helipad end

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COURTESY BURGESS

The aim was: “To design and build a 36-passenger, fully certified yacht for the charter market as well as for owner use,” says Andy North, the independent build project manager for Renaissance.

“The client was particularly interested in the facilities on board and, being themselves well-experienced charterers, gave considerable input into the equipment, from the gym and tenders and toys through to the interior and artwork.”

The owner’s brief was informed by how they’d use the yacht when on board along with what charterers might appreciate. The owner’s day starts with the gym, then it’s off to his office, which is adjacent to a fully outfitted business centre that guests or personal assistants can use, before unwinding with reading, sunning and watersports.

“We had a long list of non-negotiables,” says the owner. “A large gym, lots of cabins, high ceilings, lots of places to eat, a very large beach club, lots of entertainment spaces, an outdoor commercial pizza oven, waterproof wristbands that open the cabin doors and have a call button for service, indoor and outdoor cinemas, an ice-classed hull, a business centre, big spa and a private owner’s deck for me and my wife.”

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Sun loungers on the deck from above

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COURTESY BURGESS

Foredeck lounge overlooking the helipad

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COURTESY BURGESS

Renaissance from above showing birds-eye view of decks

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COURTESY BURGESS

The foredeck lounge overlooks the helipad (top right); guests have a plethora of outdoor spaces to soak up the sun and sea views (bottom and top left)

He was also keen to fix challenges experienced on previous yachts, says the owner’s rep, Damian Martin. “The owner is tall, and I think felt on previous charters that more headroom would be appreciated. You certainly won’t feel cramped anywhere on board.”

View looking straight down a deck/corridor

COURTESY BURGESS

COURTESY BURGESS

In early 2017, work began to flesh out and develop the design, taking this sizable wish list into consideration. The owner wanted to ensure there was a thorough description of what he wished to achieve before going out to shipyards for tendering, and he was actively involved in the development of the styling, layout and interior design.

“By the time the build started, the clients knew every inch of the layout by heart and could certainly judge the outcome against the design expectations,” says North.

Lower deck beach club showing sunpad loungers and dining area

COURTESY BURGESS

COURTESY BURGESS

Built to Passenger Yacht Code and carrying a Passenger Ship Safety Certificate, the full-displacement, ice-classed Renaissance was launched in 2023 by Spanish shipyard Freire, which is known for building complex commercial vessels.

It’s the yard’s second superyacht since delivering 74-metre Naia in 2011. Naval architecture comes from Norwegian ship engineering company Marin Teknikk, which designed the Kleven-built explorer yachts Multiverse and Andromeda.

Renaissance reaps the benefits of a commercial build when it comes to seaworthiness and safety, yet her rugged bones are draped in a stylish superyacht exterior, so there’s no mistaking her for an expedition yacht.

Main saloon in brown, beige and cream with corner sofa

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COURTESY BURGESS

“We studied carefully how the layout would work: large ‘wow’ areas should be balanced by cosier and more finely detailed areas”

“If one looks at the pure volume on the Marin Teknikk engineering base, it’s an imposing package,” says Simon Rowell, creative director of Bannenberg & Rowell Design, who used overlapping planes on the superstructure and a simple homogeny of angles to fine-tune proportions.

Surfaces of the superstructure were broken up with a subtle change in colour from white to grey, the lowlights working to balance things visually, as do the lighter-toned deck canopy overhangs.

View down on to the lounge from the mezzanine above

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COURTESY BURGESS

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Long dining table seating 30 opposite two-storey windows on one side

COURTESY BURGESSThe main saloon’s dining area – seating up to 30 – and lounge area enjoy the drama of two storeys of windows

COURTESY BURGESSThe main saloon’s dining area – seating up to 30 – and lounge area enjoy the drama of two storeys of windows

Renaissance’s silhouette is fairly symmetrical in profile, and the graphic design elements work well to suggest a forward stance.

“It lends purpose without menace,” says Rowell. “The addition of an angled ‘corner’ to aft deck bulwarks helps to visually enhance this stance, while easing the potentially overwhelming mass when approaching the transom by tender.”

The designers performed a careful balancing act inside as well. From the get-go, there was a focus on optimising the space.

Long dining table seating 30 opposite two-storey windows on one side

COURTESY BURGESSThe main saloon’s dining area – seating up to 30 – and lounge area enjoy the drama of two storeys of windows

COURTESY BURGESSThe main saloon’s dining area – seating up to 30 – and lounge area enjoy the drama of two storeys of windows

“We studied carefully how the layout would work: large ‘wow’ areas should be balanced with cosier and more finely detailed areas,” says Rowell.

Many larger yachts have a too-vast and often-under-used main saloon, but Renaissance avoids this. Along the centreline of the double height space, a mezzanine level hangs down lower, carving the saloon into two distinct living areas. To port is a long dining table (which can seat up to 30 guests or be reduced for a more intimate gathering) and to starboard a lounge.

Renaissance’s silhouette is fairly symmetrical in profile, and the graphic design elements work well to suggest a forward stance.

“It lends purpose without menace,” says Rowell. “The addition of an angled ‘corner’ to aft deck bulwarks helps to visually enhance this stance, while easing the potentially overwhelming mass when approaching the transom by tender.”

The designers performed a careful balancing act inside as well. From the get-go, there was a focus on optimising the space.

“We studied carefully how the layout would work: large ‘wow’ areas should be balanced with cosier and more finely detailed areas,” says Rowell.

Many larger yachts have a too-vast and often-under-used main saloon, but Renaissance avoids this. Along the centreline of the double height space, a mezzanine level hangs down lower, carving the saloon into two distinct living areas. To port is a long dining table (which can seat up to 30 guests or be reduced for a more intimate gathering) and to starboard a lounge.

Large lounge area with soft seating in neutral colours

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COURTESY BURGESS

Large lounge area with soft seating in neutral colours

COURTESY BURGESSA mezzanine lounge hangs between the main deck’s dining and lounging areas

COURTESY BURGESSA mezzanine lounge hangs between the main deck’s dining and lounging areas

Rowell had been developing this twin atria concept for a while. A smaller version was tried out when planning the 87-metre Lürssen yacht Avantage, but the deck apertures reduced interior living space, so it didn’t go ahead.

“But on a larger yacht, it really worked,” he says. “The drama of a double-height outboard interior elevation is much more impressive to me than a more typical internal galleried atrium.” The bridge-like mezzanine level above holds a “floating” lounge that takes in the sight lines from three sides of the vessel.

The bridge-like mezzanine level holds a “floating” lounge that takes in the sight lines from three sides of the vessel

Also in the saloon, a walkway runs between two rows of vertical, articulating s-shaped screens used as room dividers. The glass screens are embedded with a Sophie Mallebranche bronze-coloured mesh and framed in metal.

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10 bottles on single plinths on backlit walls and five on shelf below

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Glass screens used to separate lounge areas

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COURTESY BURGESS

Close-up of handles

DAVID CHURCHILL

DAVID CHURCHILL

Lounge area in neutral colours with three sofas and large black coffee table in the middle

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COURTESY BURGESS

The owner personally chose the rare cognacs for the jazz bar on the main deck (top left and bottom); lounge areas are separated by glass screens with Sophie Mallebranche mesh that open and close depending on the level of privacy desired (top centre)

“The foiling screens allow the relationship between the three main deck zones – formal dining, main saloon and circulation route – to be changeable and flexible, while also retaining a glamorous central catwalk ‘first look’ experience,” says Rowell.

The screens can close to further separate the dining room and lounge area and provide privacy, or open at an angle to draw the eyes forward towards an elaborate bronze door – another just like it opens onto the mezzanine balcony above.

The main deck and mezzanine lounge are indicative of the approach to have a variety of cosier spaces. One such lounge is the jazz bar, set just forward of the main saloon, which feels like stepping into a glamorous speakeasy adorned in backlit onyx.

“The owner personally selected rare cognacs for the bar and directed the arrangement of framed black-and-white photos of jazz masters on the walls,” says Rowell. The owner’s wife has a background in art and curated all of the artwork seen on board, including in the gallery nook at the foyer to the upper deck guest accommodation.

A study in earthy tones, the decor is interesting yet subtle enough to appeal to a wide range of guests

Lounge with beige L-shape sofas and abstract lamp

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COURTESY BURGESS

Bannenberg & Rowell reimagined the typical general arrangement by putting the bridge all the way on the top deck, in lieu of a more traditional sundeck.

This creates an exceptionally lofty viewpoint for the captain and crew, and ensures the owner’s and guests’ privacy as the bridge doesn’t look out directly over any living areas. An adjacent bridge lounge is outfitted with a large TV screen for itinerary briefings.

Seating area with brown sofa, brown drapes and brown rug

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COURTESY BURGESS

Other “dedicated” decks include the owner’s deck and spa deck. The owner’s cabin enjoys forwardfacing views and access to its own forward deck with spa tub.

“Usually, you’d find a TV rising up in front of the bed, but they opted against that and have their own private TV lounge,” says Captain Gordon Campbell, pointing to a snug set between the separate his-and-hers bathrooms.

A feather-filled glass table by David Gill found in the TV lounge is just one of the special pieces of furniture in the owner’s suite, along with the sideboard by Hoeller.

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