Featuring giant slabs of perfectly clear glass that are both vertically and horizontally curved, Pi displays a remarkable feat of engineering and construction. Its designer, Jarkko Jämsén, took the concept of structural glass a step further by curving the glass to control and slow the movement of reflection across the surface. Being structural from ceiling to deck, the four-layer panels are made of two types of low-iron glass. One has a reflective coating, while a neutral grey film interlayer controls the amount of sun light entering without distorting colour. Eckersley O’Callaghan, a London-based company famed for its award-winning work with structural glass, developed a unique mathematical formula for each panel, some of which are 3m wide, 2.7m high and 4.5cm thick.
10 superyachts that make the most of glass
SilverYachts explorer BOLD features 220 square metres of windows in tinted, laminated and toughened safety glass. The pièce de résistance a winter garden with floor-to-ceiling windows on all three sides. These can be opened fully by hand, stacking neatly into two storage spaces hidden behind bulkheads on both sides of the superstructure. When opened, the space becomes a large al fresco terrace open to the breeze and overlooking the certified helideck. On an overcast and rainy day, when the windows are tightly shut, the winter garden is still bathed in natural light.
The first thing you notice about Nobiskrug's Artefact is the giant geometric pieces of glass that dominate her mid-section. One of the owner's major wishes for the design was that it should feature an abundance of glass, not only because it is visually pleasing but because seeing the horizon helps mitigate motion sickness. Artefact uses an impressive 750 square metres of glass in total and offers guests the "view factor" from every angle on board. It even changed the way the designers had to think about the acoustics of the interior. To avoid the effect of an echo-filled glass box, everything had to be shaped in such a way that it would not reverberate noise.
Enigma was launched as the iconic Eco in 1991 by Blohm & Voss and was one of the first yachts to use curved glass as a design and structural element. Espen Øino was a designer on the project, alongside Martin Francis and other young designers, and he said, “We researched the glass for about three years and were convinced we would get a lot of strength from the geometry of the glass, like an egg”. Blohm & Voss have continued to use curved glass to great effect, most notably on the well-known 119 metre Motor Yacht A, and on 96 metre Palladium.
Skat was one of the first yachts to introduce large expanses of glass to yacht design. When she was delivered in 2002 the windows on the 71 metre Lürssen made even the largest traditional yacht windows look tiny. The structure on the bridge deck aft has been described as an 'overhanging conservatory', with the extensive glazing letting light in and providing fantastic views out. 15 years later and full height glass is now one of the top design features that superyacht owners are looking for in a new build.
Abeking and Rasmussen's radical 80 metre Excellence has been turning heads since she hit the water in 2019. With a heavily reversed, knife-like bow and acres of mirrored glass she stands out in any busy marina. The eye is drawn to Excellence's central three-storey atrium, which is framed by five-metre-tall sheets of glass, each panel weighing 1.3 tonnes.
The brief for Oceanco's 85 metre DAR was a yacht that concealed its volume within a shapely glass envelope, but one that would grant its owner complete privacy. Looking out through DAR's giant glass wall, the views are unsurpassed with zero distortion. To the outside world, however, the glass might as well be a magical cloak shrouding all that is within. Even with lights on, it is impossible to make out what is behind the glass from the outside. “You can see Monaco, but Monaco can’t see you,” says its designer Luiz de Basto.
The groundbreaking 78 metre Venus was built by Feadship for the late Steve Jobs and the design reflects the innovative nature of the famous entrepreneur. Designer Philippe Starck used glass extensively in the design of this super secretive yacht. It would seem that Jobs was a fan of using glass in design. James O’Callaghan’s famous glass staircases are appearing in Apple Stores around the globe. When presented with the initial design, Jobs responded, “I think you should make it all out of glass”.
The 88 metre Feadship Musashi has walls of glass throughout the living area and this industrial design is partnered perfectly with a Japanese aesthetic. “We tried to push the glass to make the windows as big as possible, so it feels more like a penthouse apartment than a yacht," said designer Sander Sinot, of Sinot Design Associates. "The theme was also apparent on Rising Sun, which used a structural web with big areas of glass, and it’s something we wanted to translate for Musashi.” Musashi features a central glass lift, surrounded by a stainless steel and glass staircase that passes through every deck. The steps of the staircase are made from three layers of glass.
The 136 metre Lürssen superyacht Flying Fox was launched to international fanfare in 2019 and is one of the largest yachts ever built by its German shipyard. Despite its sheer size, Flying Fox houses a relatively petite roof deck that offers a more intimate outdoor space onboard as well as spectacular views forward. It is also possible to see all the way down to the lower deck through the glass top of the lift shaft. Two other skylights filter light from above through all four decks below.