The GRID - Catching up with OMEGA Architects

T.Y Lim wrote the following article in the latest edition of THE Grid:

Catching Up With Omega Architects

After my visit to the Netherlands back in June 2017, it is now time to revisit and catch up with the good people at Omega Architects - purveyor of both artistically crafted form and function for structures, particularly yachts. We had a chat with head honcho of Omega Architects and Dutch architect extraordinaire, Mr. Frank Laupman.

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Results 2018

Heesen Yachts - VanTom & White

Looking back in 2018, there were strings of progression for Omega Architects. 2018 saw two 50m yachts designed by Omega Architects hit the waters - VanTom (ex Project Alba) and White (ex Project Ayla). These 2 yachts carries the exterior designed signature lines and also represents the inner character of speed and comfort for which Heesen Yachts are renowned for.

Alia Yachts - Virgen Del Mar VI
The highlight for 2018 however, would be the delivery of the 32m Virgen Del Mar VI built by Alia Yachts, together with Van Oossanen Naval Architects and Omega Architects. Delivered in July 2018, this pocket super-yacht was built in steel and aluminium with the inclusion of Hull Vane® (by Van Oossanen Naval Architects). Virgen Del Mar VI was designed for global cruising making her capable of long ranges. This complements well with her spacious volume of 235GT, which is large for her size. Combined, this propelled her as a finalist for the Design & Innovation Awards.

Virgen Del Mar VI boasts a distinctive raised pilothouse profile with strong horizontal and vertical shapes. Long dark lines emphasize her length as the vertical lines do for her sturdy resolute character. A very comfortable 50 square-meters wide body sun-deck annex fly bridge accommodates a large shaded dining and lounge area plus bar, both arranged behind the helm station. Elegance comes from soft angled inclining overhangs aft - which is also a spacious sunbathing area - and forward. The elegance is continued with the gentle inclining stern bulwark doubling as windshields on the swim platform offering spectacular views of the outdoors.

Virgen Del Mar VI prides herself with full height windows, wrapped around the main deck’s dining and salon - coupled with the glass bulwark, this allows for uninterrupted natural sunlight in with full panoramic views to the outdoor surroundings. Forward is the 22.5 square-meters full beam owner’s suite with bathroom featuring 2.3 meters high ceilings. Again, full height windows were included, as well as doors for private access to the sidewalk and forward lounge area that features very inviting sofas. The owner’s suite and salon also features unobstructed views to the outdoors, particularly views just above waters - and this is attributed to the glass-inserted bulwark aft. Main deck aft features open-air spaces for dining, lounging and sunbathing for up to 10 guests.

Her lower deck houses two double and two twin spacious guests cabins plus a crew area for 5. Behind the engine room sits the tender garage, which houses the vessel’s 5m tender.

Her waterline length is optimised by the plump bow, where a narrow entry of the hull provides for higher efficiency at higher (displacement) speeds, which further adds to her impressive range of 4,500 nautical miles.

In The Making

Hakvoort Shipyard - Project Adur

Just right before the turn of the year, in mid December 2018, Hakvoort Shipyard started construction of the 45.2m Project Adur - a very interesting hybrid project that includes the exterior and interior design development. The highly involved owner, represented by Peter Hürzeler of Ocean Independence, is designing his ultimate family yacht with Omega Architects. The exterior features an eye-catching shaven hull, while the master stateroom boasts a loggia with extendable balcony, erasing the borders between the interior and the exterior in giving a feel of connection with the waters and surroundings.

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Distinctive interior features are her floor to ceiling wrap-around windows - a special Owner request - on both aft decks, thus providing panoramic views from the main deck salon and sky lounge. This design allows for natural lighting to flood into the bright and fresh interior while the salon and dining shows connected symmetry in a contemporary setting with a bright colour scheme. On the exterior, soft curves wrapping around wooden see-through slats creates ‘curtains’ emphasising the yacht’s waistline. Sophisticated dark and light contrast creates subtle contrast with the water colours outside, while bronze details adds a touch of luxury. A peaceful ambiance airs throughout the yacht, making her the perfect place to relax and unwind in comfort with the family.

Accommodation includes an owner’s suite with private office located on the main deck, plus 3 guest staterooms on the lower deck. A gym offers guests the opportunity to work out whilst a dive shop and a submarine are available to explore the underwater world.

Project Adur spots a FDHF hull with Hull Vane® ’spoiler’ by Van Oossanen Naval Architects and she is powered by two diesel engines with two electric booster engines. This makes Project Adur faster than most yachts of her size with an impressive top speed of 26.5 knots, while cruising at 12 knots will give her an impressive transatlantic range of 3,800 nautical miles. The aim for efficient performance and reduced emissions allow her owners to also visit sensitive ecological destinations.

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Heesen Yachts - 8 super yachts under construction designed by Omega Architects

Currently under construction at Heesen Yachts are 8 superyachts designed by Omega Architects - with 2019 beginning with a splash when the 55m Vida (ex Project Antares & number 3 of this series) plunged into the water at the shipyard, ready for delivery later in the year while two more sister ships are under construction.

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Number 8 and 9 of the restyled and very successful 50m Satori series, a very appealing design and typically Heesen Yachts character of fast and safe luxury yachts are also under construction at Heesen Yachts. The more recent 50m Home (ex Project Nova) will also find her first sister ship on the waters in 2019, with two more after that, which includes a hybrid.

With 8 superyachts in 1 shipyard under the designs of Omega Architects, it is indeed a feat, which speaks volume for the firm.

Storm Yacht - 24m Compact Superyacht Class

In the category of compact superyachts, a 24m Storm Yacht carrying the exterior and interior designs by Omega Architects is expected to be completed and delivered to her owners in 2019.

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The Asian Connection

The Dutch design office services many clients around the globe, and they are in fact very accustomed to the Asian markets. In fact, they are currently working very closely with Asian clients - case in point with the Asian owner of a beautiful 62m customised from the OceanSport series which is currently under construction at CRN. Special features include the private owner’s deck hosting back-to-back double owner’s suite with dedicated terraces.

Yet another example is another Asian client requesting a refit by stretching a 39m to the full 47m long Lady Azul. Lady Azul was updated and stretched thoroughly: her traditional raked bow was reshaped into a contemporary near vertical bow adding 2.10m, while her stern gained 5.4m extra length which included the swim platform. Consequently, the overhangs and fashion plates had to also be redesigned proportionally.

All the extra space increased comfort, versatility and usability: with the main aft deck hosting a spacious dining area, adjacent to inviting lounge sofas plus sun bathing aft. Lower deck now offers a generous steam room and gym, next to a garage housing tenders and jet skis besides also having a dedicated storage room.

Omega Architects have a knack for customising to suit. They in fact have quite a few designs that take into account the dedicated requirements for this region with specific interiors and matching exterior designs. Taking another instance the 30m design for an Asian client which features signature clean and sporty lines, a nearly vertical bow with overall ‘smoothness’. The General Arrangement (GA) was studied keeping in mind the weather conditions the vessel will have to endure - sailing in the hot and humid Asian conditions. Therefore, the main deck aft housing the internal ‘closed’ dining area was converted into an “al fresco” dining area by way of sliding panels.

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This solution provides the best of both outdoor and indoor yachting experience. With open doors, air conditioning is preserved elsewhere by additional divisional doors in between the dining and lounge area. Sun deck access is also ‘separated’ via a ‘dog-house’. Thus the design simultaneously protects from the natural elements and provides open 360° panoramic views - achieved by low bulwarks, transparent fashion plates and large side windows on the main deck aft. The interior style is vernacular, based on local “arts and crafts” with carved wooden panelling covering the main doors and focal points.

The Asian ambiance evokes serenity through a combination of minimalist partitions, rich motifs and decors. The maximum speed of 25 knots and a range of 1,000 nautical miles at 14 knots makes this yacht a perfect yacht to discover the long sequences of islands from Malaysia to the archipelagos of Indonesia and Philippines.

“We would like to invite anyone in Asia to continue the research of combining Western and vernacular Eastern values in design. Let us designers from the West contribute to this research. At Omega Architects, we are patiently but eagerly waiting to be able to contribute.” said Frank Laupman.

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On The Drawing Board

… and the drawing board doesn’t stop. Omega Architects is currently on the get go developing several projects, bringing them to life from the drawing board - and of which, most are strictly confidential for now.

The only 4 hints we heard in brief under the superyacht category, the first - which is the most significant, in terms of size - is the 80m project developed for CRN shipyard which boasts a private and full owner’s deck with sky lounge and adjacent aft terrace. The other 3 is for Heesen Yachts, designing the exterior of the 60m Project Falcon, alongside a 45m full custom exterior and interior and another 45m semi-custom superyacht.

The versatile design studio is also developing a 60m luxury passenger vessel for CGN with a different category of guests, though with the usual high demands on comfort and safety while travelling. Such versatility in design does begs one to ask the question of where the ideas keep coming from since Frank started his own office almost twenty years ago.

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“Inspiration comes from many different sources. Ideas could come from either a brief with requirements from a client, or a new generation following and improving on previously designed series for a shipyard but maintaining the heritage, or a yacht that needs to fit the style of a residential project that a client already has. The possibilities for input are endless, really.

For instance, by visiting museums on different subjects and art directions such as contemporary art museums could spur on inspiration and ideas or even visiting the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, which inspiration came when observing what people could do with limited means. It is such a contrast to what we can do with our computers and softwares available today. When we study ancient religions, which had their variations from city to city in Egypt, every individual within the society was striving for their own meaning. This is also seen as inspiration.

And of course, it goes without saying that my team also inspires me, whether young or the elders with experience, it all contributes to what we are doing this very day.” - Frank Laupman, Omega Architects.