You might have seen the headlines already: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates reportedly pledged over $600 million to build a 376-foot-long, hydrogen-powered superyacht concept designed by Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design and Lateral Naval Architects. Even if representatives from Sinot Yacht Architecture & Design are now denying that Bill Gates is involved, the sustainable superyacht concept already received lots of attention at the Monaco Yacht Show last fall. Could it change superyacht design forever? (After all, Daniel Ziriakus, chief operating officer for Northrop & Johnson, told us last year that he expects sustainability to be the future of yacht design.) Let’s take a closer look.
Named AQUA, the concept yacht’s power is fueled by liquefied hydrogen. Stored in vacuum isolated tanks at extremely low temperatures, the liquefied hydrogen is converted into electrical energy by Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells, with water being the only by-product. The generated electrical energy is transmitted to AQUA’s switchboards, where it’s distributed to provide power for propulsion, auxiliary systems and hotel services. Large batteries buffer the generated electricity to ensure power demands are always met. And thanks to the electric propulsion, AQUA is designed to be extremely quiet.
Beyond the engine room, AQUA’s design is not only modern and sleek, but made to amplify life on the water. Inspired by ocean swells, the exterior is distinctive and memorable. AQUA is configured with five decks, giving those onboard the closest possible proximity to the sea. The aft deck features a series of platforms all leading down towards the water, while a large swim platform allows passengers to enjoy the ocean. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame amazing views and allow plenty of natural light.
The owner’s pavilion on the upper deck is arranged in an open-plan area of interlinked spaces, divided by finely crafted wooden screens providing intimacy and subdued lighting. The AQUA room, located at the bow at the far end of the owner’s pavilion, offers a top-of-the-world feeling and endless views from the best position on board. The owner’s pavilion is completed with a large bathroom, dressing room and an intimate private spa section. Located at the yacht’s axis, the owner’s bedroom section offers an endless sightline all the way up to the AQUA room at the bow.
And no modern superyacht would be complete without a beach deck, and AQUA’s version sets it close to the waterline. Expansive VIP state rooms are spacious, while the guest cabins have been designed for openness, luxury and comfort in a highly detailed minimalist Japanese beach-style setting. There’s also an indoor health & wellness center with a hydro massage room, a yoga space and workout floor and a massive, gym-wide door in the hull, which opens to reveal the ocean’s surface at water level.
Last but not least, the circular staircase situated at AQUA’s core is one of its defining features, which winds down from the top deck to the lower deck where two large liquefied hydrogen tanks are revealed behind glass in a celebration of the yacht’s sustainability.