Machine Design

Backtalk 01/14/2010

Floating mansion
Ahoy mateys! For all you sea lovers out there, meet WHY, aka Wally Hermes Yachts. The hulking new breed of boat is a gutsy, high-concept, not-yet completed venture between the posh Parisian house of Hermes and the innovative boat builder Wally (hence the acronym).

Specs posted on the superslick WHY Web site ( indicate the graceful, muscular, and slightly sinister exoskeleton measures 190-ft long, a staggering 125-ft wide, and wraps around 37,600 sq ft total space with 11,850 sq ft of smooth, spare, and very contemporary interiors spaces spread over three levels.

Accommodations include those for 12 guests in six deluxe cabins and 20 crew members. The mansion’s three levels open to prairielike decks referred to as “beaches.” For privacy or to keep out the sun, there are electronically controlled sunshades.

The living, dining, music, and media rooms are on the lowest level. The spacious rooms can be divided or left as one voluminous space that spills out to a 98-ft-wide “beach” through a long wall of floor-to-ceiling, sliding-glass panels. Lavish spa facilities are also located on this level, complete with sauna, Turkish bath, massage room, exercise area, and lounge. A massive three-story atrium is in the center of the lower level, opening the interior spaces to the sky.

Walk up the monumental spiral ramp to the middle level and you’ll find the mansion’s spacious guest suites arranged around a common lounge/library. Each suite offers a private bathroom and views of the water through massive windows. Two VIP suites have private lounges, dressing areas, and access to the titanic “beach.”

The owner’s cabin is on the top level. The sprawling suite measures more than 2,100 sq ft and includes a bedroom, sitting room, office, a vast walk-in closet and dressing room, and a luxurious bathroom with a party-sized, walk-in shower. A long, floor-to-ceiling glass wall slides open to a private, 82-ft wide “beach,” which includes the top of the atrium.

On deck, a walkway leads to a snaking swimming pool that hugs the contours of the bow and wraps around the helipad. To show they are environmentally sensitive, the designers will use a sliding canopy of thermophotovoltaic panels that protect and secure the interiors areas when closed and collect sunlight to power the bulk of the boat’s auxiliary systems when opened. While ventilating and cooling interior spaces will be by natural convection, the yacht will carry an ultralow consumption air-conditioning system. The floating mansion has enough fuel for four trans-Atlantic crossings.

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