“I had never heard of a traditional Brazilian house before,” laughs Vripack’s Marnix J Hoekstra. “But it turns out that it is a very interesting concept that not only makes sense in that region, but also can work in yacht design.”
Traditional Brazilian houses are single-story, with one big roof that covers two living quarters separated by an open-air courtyard area. “Buildings like this create airflow between the two blocks, naturally cooling them down,” says Hoekstra. “It is a natural air conditioning.” He goes on to explain that cooling down really only requires a drop in temperature of a couple of degrees. “You don’t always need air conditioning to make something feel cooler and more comfortable,” he says. “A couple degrees is all it takes to make the body feel more comfortable.”
When designing the 41.9m motoryacht, called Casa, the studio found the projects of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer helpful as a way to understand the core principals of the Brazilian house. “Niemeyer’s designs are very straight forward and orientated towards the main principals of Brazilian houses, rather than making them more elaborate with verandas and porches,” he says. “We used a lot of inspiration from him to develop the Casa concept.”
Hoekstra stresses that without proper guidelines this project could easily have lead to the creation of an extremely modernistic, impractical design. “For the owner it still has to look like a yacht,” he says. “Not just a fancy object. It needed to be fresh and modern yet keeping traditional yacht lines. It isn’t a building; it’s a ship and it needs a bow.”
Vripack shifted the traditional sky lounge backwards creating a full glass observatory and in front of this is the mid-deck, or ‘Hortus’, which mimics the open-air area in Brazilian houses. “This functions as a breeze way,” says Hoekstra. “It has full bulwark protection, is covered from the sun, can be cooled down or heated up and most importantly is a safe area for children to be outside.”
Below deck, there is a large parents’ room, which directly connects to two kid’s rooms, and there is the option to keep all rooms open as one giant family suite. The main deck aft remains obstruction-free, which ensures ample space for numerous toys and tenders.
“The quintessential Brazilian house caters to both privacy and openness with a long and open interior layout and a loft element,” says Robin de Vries, a designer at Vripack. “The layout of the yacht really allows for the several different functions of a multi-generational family. The owner is in a time of his life where his children are old enough and his parents are young enough to join him on long voyages. They are active adventurers who will be cruising to harsh environments, so naturally they require the ability to be comfortably inside together while still enjoying the outside ambiance in its entire splendour. With three generations, plus captain and crew, there’s definitely a lot happening on this boat.”
Hoekstra says that the greatest challenge of designing this yacht was overcoming preconceptions and ingrained ideas about yacht design. “The challenge of it all was not a technical one or even a styling one,” he says. “It was the mind shift that needed to take place within ourselves and within our client. We are all so used to looking at yacht design the same ways. A boat of a certain size should have a certain layout and look, so once you try and incorporate something like this, you think ‘this isn’t how a boat looks’. But going out of your comfort zone can yield special results!”
At the moment, the owner has every intention of building Casa. Vripack are finialising the technical details and interior schemes before it goes to tender at various shipyards. Watch this space.