Abeking & Rasmussen’s 323-foot (98.4-meter) flagship, Aviva, displaces a massive 5,000 gross tons and has a yawning 57-foot (17.2-meter beam).
Reymond Langton Design, along with owner’s representative Toby Silverton, was responsible for the exterior styling. Reymond Langton, which also designed the owner’s previous, 223-foot (68-meter) Aviva, built at the same yard, also designed the interior.
The new Aviva has something that no other yacht has: a full-size paddle tennis court. Pascale Reymond discusses the design challenges with Yachts International Editor-at-Large Jill Bobrow.
Designing a yacht of Aviva’s size from a blank slate could be a daunting exercise. How did the owner inspire you?
The owner said he was looking to create a yacht with a strong presence, a yacht that was unique, one that would stand out from the crowd—something different. Toby Silverton, the owner’s representative, was very much involved with the exterior styling, and the words he kept coming back to were avant-garde and modern. Regarding the interior, the overriding brief from the owner was to make a true home at sea, as he intended to spend a lot of time aboard.
You worked with the owner on his previous Aviva. Sheer size notwithstanding, how does this yacht differ?
The older Aviva was classic in style with a lot of wood. The new Aviva has a modern style with no use of wood. Also, the new yacht has a completely different interior layout that flows in an organic manner with no straight walls.
What accommodations did you make for the significant art collection aboard?
For one thing, we created a higher ceiling than normal to accommodate the large pieces of art. As the art often moves around on the yacht, having the right lighting to accommodate the art became very tricky.
Photos | Have a closer look at the 323-foot Abeking & Rasmussen Aviva in the gallery below:
What other design challenges did you face?
The single biggest challenge was to accommodate an indoor paddle tennis court measuring 66 feet by 33 feet with a 22-foot height (20 meters by 10 meters by 6.7 meters) without compromising or reducing the size of the guests’ and owner’s accommodations. Every space aboard Aviva is enormous—the owner’s suite, spa, gym, guest suites and salons. Even the main tender is 46 feet long (14 meters). To fit in everything the owner wanted, we had to create quite an innovative layout.
How many iterations of the general arrangements plan did you make?
In our first proposal to the owner, we placed the paddle court on an exterior deck, but that did not work for the owner. Once we got our head around the mind-bending fact that we had to find an interior space, the entire layout took shape very fast. We achieved the final results after approximately six versions of the GA.
How did the owner’s desire to live aboard for long periods of time affect your design?
We designed Aviva as a home, which means we had to consider practicality and function above all. To that end, there is a massive amount of storage and wardrobe space. And to accommodate his day-to-day needs, he also specified more varied locations for dining, relaxing and entertaining inside and out. And, as the owner also works from the yacht, we created a fully functional business center and conference room.
What sets Aviva’s exterior and interior design apart?
Naturally, I think she is the best yacht of her size around. She has a powerful architectural exterior with incredible interior space and a well-thought-out layout. She is also full of surprises. While designing her, I kept envisioning a TARDIS, the dimensionally transcendental police box from “Dr. Who,” the long-running science fiction television series on BBC. The TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside and exists in different, relative dimension to the exterior.
What was one of the most satisfying experiences of the process?
It was an incredibly fun and fulfilling experience to actually play a game of paddle tennis aboard Aviva.
What were the greatest rewards?
We are very flattered to see the client happy and to witness Aviva turning up in iconic locations around the world, such as at the Statue of Liberty in New York City and cruising the River Thames in London.
Do you have a favorite part of the yacht?
There are so many great spaces that it is very difficult to choose. Andrew [Langton] loves the main deck lounge with sunken seating area and architectural lighting features; for me, it is the journey to the paddle tennis court via the incredible staircases and lobbies.
What are some of the exterior highlights?
The superstructure and hull are contrasting forms—both sculptural. The hull is soft and rounded like a sailing yacht, with the design driven by the seakeeping and low-resistance hull form. The superstructure is more architectural with twisting, faceted shapes, inspired by a car design with metallic silver really showing off the form.
What are some of the interior highlights?
We have an enormous upper deck lounge, which can open up to the exterior with balconies to port and starboard. There are 30 feet (9.1 meters) of sliding doors on both sides of the room. The bridge is a bit like “Star Trek” meets Bentley. I researched a lot of science fiction interiors before designing the bridge.
How was it working with Abeking & Rasmussen?
It is always a pleasure to work with Abeking, even when the pressure is on. Aviva is our 10th Abeking-built yacht, but it is also our largest by far. Starting with a blank slate, we only had three years to design and build Aviva, therefore, we had a lot of pressure from the shipyard to deliver on time. This project means a lot to us and is very close to our hearts. We thoroughly enjoyed designing and building Aviva and are extremely proud to be part of the project. She is our best work so far.