Royal Yacht Britannia by Vitruvius Yachts docked

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Vitruvius Yachts reveals confidential 125m national flagship design

19 January 2023• Written by Brooke Murphy

The London-based design studio Vitruvius Yachts has released previously confidential renderings of its submission for the British national flagship project. The design was shortlisted as a finalist in the original design competition headed by defence secretary Ben Wallace, before plans were scrapped at the end of last year.

The 125 metre motor yacht was intended to be built with a recycled aluminium hull and superstructure. The design was a collaborative effort between Team FestivAI, Philippe Briand and his design studio Vitruvius Yachts, Zaha Hadid Architects and aluminium specialists Ocea.

A focus on sustainability can be seen elsewhere too, with a highly efficient hull that claims to provide 30 per cent less drag than conventional vessels. The interior uses repurposed materials and features a flexible layout that allows the yacht to function as both an exhibition space or a “floating embassy” that can host state dinners and private receptions, with amenities suitable for all demographics.

Key features include a large formal dining room aft that can be configured in several ways thanks to moveable partitions – be it a breakout room, greeting area or conference room. 

The main arrival point for guests and visitors is realised in a spectacular central atrium, where wall-to-wall displays proudly reflecting the UK’s maritime industry, green technology and culture could be displayed. The multi-sensorial experience replicated throughout the concept includes sign language and audio descriptions for accessibility.

Meanwhile, a modern exterior includes a distinct slice through the superstructure, creating a “hoop of glass, successfully flooding the interior with light,” the studio said. This element, paired with Jason Bruges Studio’s thoughtfully positioned LED lights, alludes to the ribbon of the Union Jack, complementing the obvious ensign featured from the side.

“To design a vessel that will become a benchmark in sustainability as well as demonstrating British excellence and heritage for current and future generations, while also being a symbol of inclusion and diversity, was an enormous challenge,” said Philippe Briand. “The nature and intensity of the project kept me focused but also filled me with pride.”

The teams conducted thorough research before and during the conception, working in conjunction with the University of Bologna to explore design and technology solutions that would emit fewer greenhouse gases.

An energy-agnostic propulsion system would have been based on highly efficient pod drives, enabling geostationary position-keeping without damaging sensitive seabeds with a conventional anchor. Power for the drives would have been derived from a battery bank, able to be charged via shore power or onboard generators fueled by biofuel and with the capacity to use alternative energy sources in future.