The construction of superyacht palladium
by Caroline White
Palladium is all about life. From the organic design that connects the exterior lines with the interior spaces, to the furniture that mushrooms from the floors and even the central consideration of the owner’s lifestyle – this 95m yacht was built for and about life.
The originality of ‘ Project Orca’, both in her organic structure and the built-for-living requirements of her interiors, presented new challenges. The finished boat is the milestone that she was intended to be because designer Michael Leach and his team eschewed compromises that would have conventionalised the boat, and instead found innovative solutions that allowed the creation of this cutting-edge design.
The exterior styling was particularly challenging because the owner required headroom on every deck of 2.45m, meaning deck-to-deck heights far greater than on comparable vessels. Cleverly, the flowing lines of Palladium’s exterior disguise her overall height.
‘In our opinion, before the stylist came along motor yachts were designed in profile with little thought for the 3D shape,’ explains Leach. ‘Our car styling background has enabled us over the years to develop ever more exciting 3D shapes. From the early days of working for Disdale on projects like Montkaj and Tigre d’Or and [Michael Leach Design partner] Mark Smith working on Eco for Martin Francis, this has led us to develop our own yachts Solemar and Anna, and our ultimate 3D expression – Palladium.’
Palladium was designed from the inside out. The vessel’s extra height necessitated more beam for stability – 20m compared to the 16m of a normal yacht of this size. Here was a rare chance: the interior volume was big enough that extra beam could be used to create dramatic hull features harmoniously linking to overhanging balconies with a cross-sectional curvature that had never been achieved before.
‘Cars are designed in 3D by designers sculpting foam models, painstakingly removing anything that’s not the car in their minds,’ says Leach. ‘They constantly twist and turn it as they refine it to catch the light and judge the angles. In the same way, we passionately shaped Palladium in foam – model after model.
‘I remember the day when I was with the model maker finishing off the final foam model, and that last little tweak with the sandpaper,’ Leach continues. ‘She looked sensational. It was then down to Matthew Kelly, our in-house naval architect, to convert the foam model into a computer model using laser scanning. It was so refined, the yard used it for their construction.
‘The yard was amazing, never grumbling at the task of engineering that amazing shape into metal. There were hiccups along the way but Mark was there at the yard to solve the problems.’