Blohm and Voss - Palladium
Palladium from Michael Leach Design and built by Blohm & Voss, is probably one of the most talked about yacht launches from 2010, and a look at her groundbreaking exterior design shows why
There are a lot of ways to look at the amazing new creation from Michael Leach Design and built by blohm & Voss, the 96-metre superyacht Palladium. As a storage and delivery mechanism for a wealthy gentleman’s collection of jetskis is probably not the first one to come to mind. However, that is the description of one person involved in the spectacular design of this yacht, launched in late 2010.
For those elite buyers that want a customised superyacht that defies description, and which makes them the subject of intrigue and fascination, there are only a handful of German builders ready to take on that challenge. Blohm and Voss is one of those yards. The yard began operations in 1877 and has a pedigree that puts it in the top ranks of superyacht builders. The yachts Blohm and Voss build are almost archetypal: there is the 119-metre A, the 93-metre Mayan Queen IV, and the 72-metre Eco. Most prominently, they also launched Roman Abramovitch’s Eclipse, the world’s biggest yacht at 163 metres.
Michael Leach Design, designers of the award the winning 67-metre M.Y. Anna and the 62-metre M.Y. Solemar, took on the design of Palladium Project, named Orca, with a client wanting to challenge the orthodox look of yachts, but in a style that would remain powerfully appealing and bold. The lines were meant to break away from the traditional look of the aft deck on most superyachts, according to Michael Leach Design, which handled the exterior and interior design. Drawing inspiration from the flowing shapes of Killer Whales, Palladium’s sheerline extends from the sleekly drawn superstructure down to the transom. Looking at Palladium, it is almost difficult to realize that she is a 95-metre monster. Only when a person stands on the foredeck do you get a sense of her size.
According to Michael Leach of Michael Leach Design: “The exterior of Palladium is like no other, but the goal was to produce a timeless design, yet elegant, practical and revolutionary. The key factor to the overall styling profile is that the flowing lines have been carefully styled, and carved by the designer’s hand while in model form. This is to create a tension focused around the atrium and funnel. Importantly the styling had to encompass a functional interior with plenty of natural light into internal areas.”
The forward deck has been left largely free and uncluttered, until the main deck cabins. Large overhangs are used on the vertical windows of the owner’s suite, yielding plenty of shade and allowing for the curving profile to begin.
Just above the waterline on the bow, a dark finish on the hull is extended back to the waterline aft, helping to create a flow that extends to the rear. A sweeping arch lifts up from the main deck forward of the midships, and creates a continuous line down to the stern at the waterline.
The designers cleverly use this feature both as a structural support and as a stylistic element. As the arch sweeps past each deck, it allows for a much larger roof overhang than might otherwise be possible, while leaving as much of the sides open to the sea. On the main deck, the sweeping arch is used to support a huge overhang/aft upper deck, yet at the same time it leaves a very large amount of deck space that’s open. It’s a clever design solution.
On the aft decks
The main aft deck features a stylish twin- pool arrangement that is left predominantly exposed to the sun, thanks to the large indent in the upper aft deck area. The pool cuts the mid section cleanly, and the aft decks are connected by central-aligned staircases, which is in contrast with most yachts that connect aft decks via side- oriented staircases.
The pools, built low into the aft deck, which keeps the view from the lounges and even inside the main saloon unobstructed, are encompassed by a teak seat. The second, aft pool is a smaller Jacuzzi jetpool. From this space, guests can be in constant contact with those on the aft swim deck, where a different kind of party will be going on. There is a very unrushed simplicity about the layout of the aft deck area. The twin pools have central placing, with aft sunpads extending to the very rear of the deck. There are loungers to port and starboard, and staircases that lead down to the toys area, and little else. This leaves a lot of room for a lot of guests to enjoy themselves, with the sunpads transforming into dining tables and a large buffet area.
The upper deck is accessed via the central staircase, which emerges on the upper deck in the middle of a larger counter servicing/storage/buffet area. Here, the simple yet tasteful style of Palladium is best represented. Teak flooring is matched against finely finished wood tables and chairs, while that is matched against the pewter and bronze-nickel motif that is carried throughout the yacht.
Unusually, there is no central dining table. Instead, Palladium features twin tables on either side of the central staircase. However, there is space enough for up to 36 guests to dine in comfort, giving an indication that this yacht was designed for large parties and plenty of fun.
Venturing further up to the bridge deck, there is a large aft area that features an interesting bit of styling – a curving arch that extends from the topmost area of the superstructure down to the aft end of the rounded deck space. The effect of this arch is many-fold. In profile, it rounds up the upper-aft quarter. Viewing Palladium from astern, it completes a gentle, symmetrical arc towards the top.
The aft bridge deck leads into a gymnasium, where owner and guests can exercise in ultimate style. But it is here that Palladium offers a signature touch. In line with the requirement to have as much natural light coming into the yacht as possible, Palladium’s sky deck has curved atrium windows that open the area up to outward views. In an example of the flowing looks of Palladium, the atrium windows on the bridge deck extend down to the upper deck, curving inward as they do. Passing to the main deck, the windows form a sliding door that opens onto two-metre wide balconies. These balconies protrude out from the main hull shape and have glazed glass inserts.
There are eight guest cabins that can accommodate up to 16 guests. Moreover, Palladium features construction materials spanning nearly every type of yacht material – from steel to carbon fibre.
UK-based bespoke furniture builder Silverlining was commissioned to build 68 pieces of furniture for Palladium, including five-metre long bars and a six-metre long dining table, which appears to grow out of the floor. To achieve this effect, the large tabletop and the support structure had to be built as one piece. The size of the table called for a lightweight and strong structure, and so Silverlining brought in composite material consultants from the Formula 1 industry to work with its in-house structural and audio-visual engineers to develop a solution.
Moving in from the main deck aft pool area, one gets the feeling of informal luxury and relaxation. Instead of a main saloon, guests and owner step into a large private cinema/lounge area. Progressing forward, an engineering space separates a lobby area to starboard and a spa on the portside.
Continuing onwards from the lobby area guests can access six stunning suites and a VIP cabin. Numbers are not important, as these cabins have the look and finish of the owner’s staterooms on a 60-metre yacht. Themes of rich reds and pewter run through the selection of wood and fabrics that permeate the guest cabins. Two vast horizontal windows yield huge amounts of natural light into each cabin.
On the upper deck, in from the huge aft deck dining area, one gets to the owner’s lounge. Indeed, the upper deck could really be referred to as the ‘owner’s deck’. Here, plush comfort is the order, with a series of dark woods and fabrics creating the feeling of a cigar lounge – perhaps for the gentlemen of the yacht to recount tales of the day. To port forward is the dining room – a more formal affair. However, the dining room is paired to one of Palladium’s special balconies. When the curtains and sliding doors are opened onto the two-metre space, a very open feeling is achieved, with dining guests getting a good look at the beautiful location that lies outside. The starboard balcony is set against the atrium stairwell that descends into the immaculate lobby.
The owner’s stateroom has been kept under wraps, but it is a spectacular sight to be sure. A huge amount of space forward has been set aside, with a 270-degree forward view that looks out onto the bow. Lounges surround a bed that is positioned in the middle of the full-beam cabin, while a series of skylight windows above make this area as near to be outdoors as possible.
The owner’s cabin can also be used to access the massive forward area, which doubles as a touch-and-go helipad when the tower and rescue tenders are stowed.
Bring out the toys
The owner’s dedication to his on-water activities is very apparent in the massive fixed beach club area at the stern. Unlike many newer superyachts that fold out at the stern and sides to create an out-sized swim platform, Palladium’s entire stern is a fixed swimpad/ sports area, dedicated to the toys and on-water fun. A staircase leads down from the aft main deck to the swim pad. From here, a massive door opens up, leading to a cavernous area for storing the jetskis. There is room for up to ten freestyle jetskis in this space, plus 11 customised windsurfer rigs. A further four Yamaha Waverunners completes the huge toy set.
A specially designed crane emerges from the area to lift and deploy these tenders.
The side doors open upwards to reveal custom-built tenders whose design echoes that of the mother yacht. Plenty of space has been given over to twin, high-powered tenders and sports toys on Palladium. Two more rescue tenders have been stored on the forward deck. A hidden crane emerges from the aft area to life and deploy these tenders.
Given the hull design, she should be able to achieve long distances at reasonable speed, assuring her owner of grand time on the water. Reportedly powered by twin MTU 595 TE 70l Diesel engines, Palladium can reach around 19 knots at top speed and can make 6000 nautical miles at her cruising speed of 14 knots.
Technical Specifications – Palladium
LOA – 95.1m
LWL – 83.98m
Beam (Max) – 16.22m
Draught (loaded) – 4.4m
Construction – steel hull, aluminium superstructure
Class and flag state – Lloyd’s Register/Cayman Island Shipping Register
Gross Tonnage – 4447GT
Naval Architecture – Blohm and Voss
Project Manager – Alastair Bingham, Marine Technical Design
Exterior Design – Michael Leach Design
Interior Design – Michael Leach Design
Main Engines – 2 x MTU 16V 595 TE7OL
Speed (Max/Cruise) – 19.3kts/16kts
Fuel capacity – 480,000lts
Range at cruise – 5000nm
Fuel burn at cruise – 1800lts/hr
Climatic cruising capability – worldwide
Accommodation – 1 x Owner; 1 x VIP; 6 x Guest; 3 x staff
Crew – 33
Tenders: 2 x 10m Cougar Limousines; 2 x SOLAS Zodiac rescue boats; 4 x Yamaha Waverunners; 10 x Rickter Superjet Freestyle jetskis; 11 x Custom windsurfers