Solar panels replace traditional canvas on the sails of Soliloquy, a radical yacht concept by young eco-conscious designer Alastair Callender.
While many significant developments have been made of late in superyacht design – not least due to the work of celebrated architects such as Lord Foster and John Pawson – the industry is not known for its eco-credentials. In fact, the opposite is true. As superyachts continue to increase in size (witness the recent launch of Eclipse, the largest yacht in the world at 170m), so too does the amount of pollution they produce. A new approach to naval architecture – more radical than even a Jeff Koons painted exterior – is required to address the balance. Soliloquy, an innovative concept yacht conceived by young designer Alastair Callender, might be the answer.
Designed to be the first super green superyacht, the Soliloquy concept is powered by wind, solar and Hybrid Marine Power technology. At its core are three automated “solarsails” developed by Solar Sailor Holdings, Australia. These rigid-wing solar panels rotate through 360 degrees to be angled to the sun to optimize solar collection. The power generated gives the yacht zero-emission capabilities, minimizes its carbon footprint, as well as saves on fuel costs.
“Eco-luxury no longer has to be viewed as an oxymoron. The answer to this paradox is Soliloquy,” says the yacht’s designer Alastair Callender, who conceived the 53- meter boat as part of his degree in Boat Design at Coventry University, from where he graduated in June, 2009.
After internships at Andrew Winch Designs and Princess Yachts, Callender has a keen sense for what constitutes luxury at the pinnacle of this market. Soliloquy boasts vast alfresco living spaces that open to the elements at the touch of a button; oversized Venetian-blind style shutters provide shade; increased privacy for guests is a result of automated operations that requires a smaller crew than usual for a yacht of this size.
“It was important to ensure that I pushed the boundaries of superyacht design, without forgetting the past,” says Callender of Soliloquy’s striking sculpted form. Its elegant silhouette remains intact while below it an ever-evolving superstructure creates a spectacle for onlookers.
As we take a virtual tour of Soliloquy, we talk to its up-and-coming designer Alastair Callender about the importance of innovative design and even more innovative environmentally friendly technology.
The solar powered “sails” of Soliloquy are both radical and in keeping with traditional sailing yacht design. What was your priority: to innovatively position solar panels, or to reference classic yacht aesthetics?
With any design, the key is to answer the brief in the best way possible. The need to store Soliloquy’s solarsails both safely and securely brought about the innovative overhead beam structure. The solarsail rigid-wings needed to be positioned to optimize the best performance for this motor sailor. It was important to ensure that I pushed the boundaries of superyacht design, without forgetting the past. The result is one of understated opulence, which has over 600m² of adaptable photovoltaic solar panels, a hull with an elegant line, and a visually dynamic sculptured form.
Soliloquy has a unique superstructure that is ever evolving, with giant “blinds” creating large al-fresco living spaces. How did this inform the sweeping form of the yacht?
The Venetian-blind style panels complement the overhead sweeping form of the superstructure, where they are stored. They can fold down to the side of the yacht, and will offer true adaptability and choice. This will provide an innovative opportunity for privacy, shade and solar coverage for her guests.
You only recently graduated in boat design. What direction do you see for your newly founded design practice?
At this stage I am “testing the water” and trying to spread the message of this innovative eco-luxurious design at some major superyacht events in the near future.
I cannot wait to get more closely involved with this industry, which I find fascinating. My generation is passionate about the planet; I am also passionate about superyachts. Therefore I will always endeavor to design with a “green hat” on.
For someone who has only just graduated, you have been heavily involved in boat design for many years. Where does your love of boats stem from?
I have worked within three yacht design studios to date, and I have recently been presented the Boat Designer of the Year Award 2009, from Coventry University. I grew up 200m from the sea and my sailing club, on the south coast of England – so I have been in and around boats for as long as I can remember. This has fuelled my passion for all things nautical for 23 years.
What inspires your designs?
Each and every day I constantly get inspired from different sources. For this project, I was inspired by the incredible Rotating Tower building development in Dubai. The constantly moving and ever-evolving superstructure is truly unique. It gives both the owners and distant on-lookers a terrific sense of luxury, through both its visual and emotion connection. This has been reflected in the adaptable superstructure and interior spaces of my superyacht design.
What is your feeling about the yacht market at the moment? What are clients now looking for?
I believe owners will always desire a truly attractive, elegant, and individual yacht, with innovative features with it. I believe a potential owner would welcome the opportunity to minimize their carbon footprint. Soliloquy succeeds in doing just this and also ensures that the high level of luxury expected onboard a superyacht is not compromised. Significant fuel saving benefits are an additional benefit of this 58m super green superyacht. Soliloquy proves a point to the world that eco-luxury no longer has to be viewed as an oxymoron. The answer to this paradox is Soliloquy.
Yacht owners are typically conservative in their tastes. How have they reacted to the Soliloquy concept in terms of design and the use of solar power?
I was speaking to various superyacht owners last week at the Superyacht Cup in Palma, and their reaction was very positive. We agreed there are potential owners today that would wish to become the first in owning a cutting edge, rigid-wing, architecturally dynamic superyacht, regardless of her environmental benefits. In 2006, the world saw the launch of an incredibly radical and highly innovative superyacht called Maltese Falcon, which received a terrific level of attention. The first owner will always be able to say that he was the pioneer to own such a revolutionary vessel. I hope Soliloquy might inspire somebody to invest in state of the art, rigid-wing technology, in the knowledge they will also be supporting the development of a “greener” future in the superyacht industry.
Yacht design is increasingly more environmentally friendly. What have been the most important developments in this area?
Recently we have seen more and more owners wishing to take an eco-friendly stance. Examples include Ethereal from Royal Huisman, and Ice from Lürssen Yachts. Soliloquy will push the boundaries further than before, using the patented technology of Solar Sailor Holdings Ltd. from Australia, by collecting free and clean renewable energy from the sun and the wind – to allow for Soliloquy to have zero-emission capability, from harnessing this source of energy from the “power of nature”.
Much progress has been made in the world of yacht design, with boats created by Philippe Starck, Lord Foster, John Pawson and numerous fashion designers. Is it the case that technological developments – specifically those that are environmentally friendly – have been slower?
More and more technologies are becoming more readily available. With the investment of the US Navy, Solar Sailor Holdings Ltd.’s leading technology will develop further, to help ensure a greener future. I wished to incorporate this fantastic technology into the superyacht industry to help support the “Super-Green Superyacht” ideal, which has now been made viable.
Eclipse, the largest yacht in the world that was commissioned by Roman Abramovich, recently launched. Is the age of “bigger is better” over in yacht design?
The message I received from many delegates last week, after presenting my speech at the 4th Annual Future of Superyachts conference, was that currently the larger yacht orders are slowing due to the financial climate. However, I believe that the biggest yachts will continue to be produced, though due to advances in technologies – such as Solar Sailor Holdings Ltd.’s proven solarsails and Hybrid Marine Power – a greener alternative yacht is very much of interest to owners in the future. This technology is effective and transferable for yachts of all sizes. The larger the yacht the better in fact, due to the smaller incremental percentage cost of this technology, as a proportion of the overall cost of the vessel.
What would you say are the most important trends in boat design at the moment?
To ensure a greener, more eco-friendly stance is included within the design brief, without reducing the feeling of luxury.
Whose work in the world of boat design do you most admire?
This is a tricky question, and one I cannot narrow down to just a single designer. However, my passion for yacht design was fuelled by Mr. Andrew Winch, of Andrew Winch Designs Ltd. in London, eight years ago. It is thanks to Andrew’s inspirational “careers talk” at my school that I am so keen to work in creating and designing people’s dreams.
Which are your all time favorite yachts?
If I was given the chance to sail on some of the classic J-Class sailing yachts that would be a dream come true!
What is your definition of luxury?
Luxury is individual and relative to each and every one of us. This includes:
• The item must be aesthetically beautiful in the eyes of the owner
• Bespoke personalized design, that goes beyond expectations
• An emotional connection to the item – with a deep desire to own it
• Unique and individual
• A quality that can only be achieved from expert craftsmanship
• The added value, which perhaps only you as the owner would be aware of
If luxury were an object, what would it be?
A super green superyacht.
If luxury were a person, who would it be?
The person you fall in love with.
If luxury were a moment, what would it be?
Sailing into the horizon as dawn breaks.
If luxury were a place, where would it be?
Sailing with friends and family with a great breeze behind you, nothing in sight, just the pure beauty of the power of nature, towards a remote idyllic island.