VSY’s Stella Maris: Glass House
Stella Maris, built by the Italian shipyard VSY, takes the “villa by the sea” concept and gives it maximum expression with full-height glazing and a split-level general arrangement.
By Justin Ratcliffe Photos Beppe Raso and Massimo Listri
Stella Maris represents a dramatic evolution of VSY’s two previous launches, Candyscape II and Roma. An updated version of these 62-meter (203-foot) platforms, the 2,114-gross-ton, 72-meter (237-foot) Stella Maris, designed by Espen Øino, offers more than twice the volume, along with some unconventional exterior styling and interior layout solutions. Some of these, such as the extensive floor-to-ceiling glass windows and fully certified helideck, presented significant technical challenges that had to be identified and overcome early on in the design phase.
“The client’s vision for this project was to have a villa-like feeling in his yacht to extend the enjoyment of the yacht through all seasons of the year, so we thought very carefully about what we could do differently,” says Øino. “I’m obsessed with getting as much of the outside world into the boat as possible. The full-height windows were an early collective decision and part of the mission to open up the interior to the outside environment.”
These windows on the main and upper deck aft take full advantage of the generous headroom of up to 8 feet 10 inches (2.7 meters). They also presented challenges for consultant naval architects Laurent Giles in terms of sheer weight.
“Weight tends to creep up on you and there is very little way out, because the tender-bay doors and other hull openings mean that freeboard is critical,” explains David Lewis, managing director of Laurent Giles Superyacht Architecture in Lymington, U.K. “One square meter of structural aluminum weighs about 23 kilos, whereas one square meter of glass of the required strength for this project weighs 55 kilos. This considerable increase in weight and VCG [Vertical Center of Gravity] had to be taken into consideration in the design of the hull.”
One of the principal disadvantages of large windows is the potential for resonance from the engine room below the salons. VSY brought in Joe Smullin of Soundown Corporation in Massachusetts to advise on the associated noise and vibration issues. Studies in conjunction with glass specialists Isoclima revealed that double glazing on yachts can accentuate rather than attenuate vibration noise. With this mind, the type and thickness of the laminated panes vary in thickness and type of glass according to their location and the potential source of vibration.
As with tall buildings that are subject to lateral forces in windy conditions that want to twist into parallelogram shapes in a process known as racking or shear deformation, the glass panes had to be specifically engineered and securely bonded to the aluminum superstructure to avoid deformation with normal flexing. Part of the aesthetic appeal of glass is the lightweight appearance it helps to create, so the superstructure had to complement the sleek appearance—oversized mullions would have killed this look.
VSY was also careful to take into account new or evolving regulations and Stella Maris was designed to be SOLAS (Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea) compliant and to accommodate more than the standard 12 passengers with minimal modifications. Four of the six double guest cabins on the main deck have Pullman berths, but the 753-square-foot (70-square-meter) gym on the upper deck could also be transformed into two additional VIP cabins. The shipyard claims that Stella Maris already fulfills the 13-36 Passenger Yacht Code’s principle criteria (the code of practice that seeks to apply SOLAS requirements to pleasure yachts of any size that carry more than 12—but not more than 36—passengers). One of the few additions required would be davit-launched life rafts for “foot dry” entry, which might be fine for a passenger ferry, but are considered an eyesore on a superyacht.
Stella Maris is also believed to be one of just four superyachts to have a fully HCA-MCA-certified helideck (the others are the support vessel Sputnik, the Feadship Air and Fincantieri’s 439-foot/134-meter Serene). This required almost two years of consultation and an early visit to the Helideck Certification Agency (HCA) in Aberdeen, Scotland, which requested modifications to the “fall” or inclination of the aft superstructure and additional sprinklers to cool the glass windows on the decks below in case of fire. The helideck is certified to operate a Eurocopter EC135.
Stella Maris has an unusual staggered deck configuration. All accommodations are located forward of the central column: crew on the lower deck, six guest cabins on the main deck and the owner’s suite above the wheelhouse. Social areas, with the exception of the gym and spa space on the bridge deck, are abaft the central column to take full advantage of the exceptional headroom. The interior design by Rome-based Michela Reverberi is strikingly unadulterated, no doubt assisted by the yacht’s angular exterior geometry. Conceived to take full advantage of the split-level layout and massive windows, the design also avoids the negative spaces associated with corridors, and the owner’s suite, for example, opens immediately into the dressing area.
“The owners requested a very simple interior design that would serve to showcase works of art and other objects,” says the designer, of her biggest yacht project to date. “Sometimes the level of simplicity is quite extreme, but it’s well known that a simple-looking interior is harder to achieve than a highly decorative one, because the tolerances have to be perfect. The idea was to achieve elegance through attention to detail and quality.”
The most dramatic interior feature is the winter garden “greenhouse” contained within the abundant glazing on the two aft decks, which reinforces the sensation of being inside a seaside residence rather than a yacht. Bleached teak is the principal timber throughout, whose soft tones are accented with more exotic materials and textures such as lacquered perlato surfaces that have been acid-etched for a relief effect, delightful Green Bamboo marble that complements the garden feature and a bolder Cristallino Blu marble in the owner’s bathrooms. Reverberi was even able to source original Art Deco–style wall sconces salvaged from the transatlantic liner Normandie, which add a touch of glamour to the main stairwell bordering the glass elevator. The lift itself, because of the split-level layout, is required to make no less than seven stops from top to bottom.
For more information: vsy.it
LOA: 236ft. 6in. (72.1m)
Beam: 41ft. 4in. (12.6m)
Draft: 12ft. 2in. (3.7m)
Gross tonnage: 2,114
Engines: 2 x Caterpillar 3516B tier II, 2,682hp @ 1,600rpm
Propellers: Rolls-Royce KaMeWa CPP
Speed (max.): 17 knots
Range: 5,500 nm @ 12 knots
Generators: 4 x Lindenberg Liag/MAN D2876LE301
Stabilizers: Quantum QC 2200 XT Zero Speed
Classification: Lloyd’s Register
Naval architecture: Laurent Giles Naval Architects
Exterior styling: Espen Øino
Interior design: Michela Reverberi
Guest cabins: 6 + owner’s suite
Crew: 18+2 (captain)