Changing the Paradigm: Inside Vripack and The New Yachts Company's design platform PRIME
by Rebecca Cahilly-Taranto
Backed by the groundbreaking functionality of the 50m PRIME platform, Vripack’s Maharani puts the owner and guests first in this “human-centred” design
“It’s new.” “It’s revolutionary.” “This approach will turn the superyacht industry on its head.”
When the creative duo behind the edgy Dutch design studio Vripack and the envelope-pushing innovators at The New Yachts Company use such phrases to describe their latest collaboration, the claims warrant investigation.
The subject of the excitement is twofold: a pre-engineered 50 metre platform designed to support a variety of superstructure styles and layouts – and a paradigm-shifting interior fully dedicated to “human-centred living”. The two companies have essentially ripped up the standard 50m superyacht layout and started again from scratch.
They’re calling this new creation Maharani. It’s built on a variation of the PRIME Megayacht Platform, which was first unveiled to the industry at the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show.. What it does is push all the technical and mechanical spaces to the tank level to allow the owner and designer the freedom to create the superstructure styling and interior/exterior layout of their dreams – all in a tidy 50 metre, 499GT package. As a result, the owner gets the kind of space in a 50m usually seen on much larger yachts.
“Today’s owners are younger and value intelligent ergonomics and versatility in everything they buy,” says Barin Cardenas, founder of The New Yachts Company. “Current 50 metre layouts cater a bit too much to technical needs – the galley is next to the dining area leading to noise and smell issues, the wheelhouse and engine room are in premium locations for crew ease, and there’s privacy and efficiency challenges as owners, guests, and crew areas are spread out all over… if our industry is to attract new owners then we have to improve the owner experience without the need to build a larger and more expensive yacht."
“So we reimagined the use of space on board to focus on the owner first and then everyone and everything else. The engine room, wheelhouse, and galley were relocated to areas better for both the crew and the owner. New entertainment areas were created or enhanced and guests were directly connected to them. It’s what we call the ‘Resort Yacht Experience’,” he says. “Our goal was to bring more value to owners; give them privacy, multi-use spaces and all the possibilities typically only seen on larger yachts.”
The use of Virtual Reality (VR) was critical in the development and evolution of both the PRIME platform and Vripack’s design for it, dubbed “Maharani”, revealed here for the first time. “When we introduced VR to walk through a boat, we could spin it, look at every angle; see how each space would feel. It changed our view completely,” Cardenas adds.
“For the longest time, the industry has been doing things one way, just because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” Bart Bouwhuis, co-creative director of Vripack, says as I don a VR headset to begin the “tour” of Maharani. “We’re here to disrupt that.”
Suddenly, I’m standing aft on a single-level, 50m main deck, with uninterrupted views from the main saloon through the second lounge forward and beyond. The area typically gobbled up by the galley is now open to the sea; the dining table is running fore and aft to starboard in an efficient use of space. A virtual jump forward lands me in the middle of the pool on the foredeck.
“This is an awesome, awesome main deck,” Bouwhuis’s voice continues. I’ve stepped out of the pool and am now sitting in a virtual chair in the forward lounge, surrounded by blue sky and perfectly unobstructed views of the sea.
“By moving what would be the skylounge to the forwardmost area of the main deck and unifying it with the foredeck,” he says, “you can face forward and enjoy the views while underway. It is a much more elegant way to navigate.”
This “daytime deck” forms the basis of Maharani’s design. In the centre of the interior, a stunning staircase climbing from the lower to the sundeck encircles a glass lift, while a soaring two-story façade creates the feel of a luxury penthouse suite. It’s a feeling normally achieved on much, much larger yachts.
The galley and a loading bay for provisioning now reside on the lower deck, which, among other benefits, eliminates the need for larger exhaust fans and the noise mitigation required when this largely crew-used space is situated in the midst of guest living.
“Look at the 500GT market,” Cardenas continues, “the layouts are all the same; essentially three to four areas for the family to spend their time aboard.” Maharani’s main deck has 50m of clear deck space offering ten unique areas.
Above is another deck dedicated to the owner, with an aft-facing semi-circular master suite, a forward-facing gymnasium, and endless deck areas. “Guest privacy was another focus so this upper deck is the second full deck solely dedicated to the owner and his family,” he says.
The sundeck provides another private owner and guest space with a bar and a cosy seating area encircling a fire pit aft; the wheelhouse is forward in a raised pilothouse design.
The lower deck exemplifies the “Resort Yacht” concept that characterises the PRIME platform. Much like a beach resort, here, the expansive beach club is directly accessed from the guest staterooms. The galley, crew mess and crew quarters are conveniently situated forward.
“There is no other 50 metre that has a same-level deck from the swim platform to the beach club and into the guest accommodation,” says Bouwhuis, “but we have the technical background to make this a good design.” The current beach club design includes a sauna and spa, which could be easily interchanged for toy storage or reconfigured for tender stowage.
On the tank deck, PRIME’s difference becomes apparent. Here, the engine room is situated amidships, much like in commercial marine applications. This required raising the deck’s height to accommodate the engines and necessitated a slight increase in headroom on all levels, which meant design modifications to maintain the sleek, tri-deck, fast displacement design. Noise mitigation for the all-aluminium, glass-friendly Maharani was of paramount concern and shaft decoupling is implemented throughout.
“This all started when we took the PRIME platform and put the client in the centre. What would he want and what can we as an industry give him?” says Bouwhuis. “I challenge any other 50 metre project on value for money. We are offering a different way of creating without having to spend more money on a much larger boat.”