Getting to the bottom of yacht lifts & elevators

| With thanks to Holland Marine Lifts and Lift Emotion


With today’s superyachts getting larger and much more elaborate, yacht lifts have become a must-have feature for improving accessibility and movement between decks, as well as in superyacht design, as stunning focal points that link on-board areas in beautiful ways.Metal Wrapped Glass Lift

Dubbed as lifts or elevators depending on whom you ask, these custom-made gadgets are as beautiful as they are practical. As such, Yachting Pages spoke to experts at Holland Marine Lifts and Lift Emotion to get to the bottom of the latest considerations, trends and challenges in this field.

The uses of lifts aboard a superyacht

When talking of interior lifts, we often first think of passenger lifts, but there are in fact an array of uses for lifts and elevators on board a superyacht, where style and service come first. Passenger lifts, crew lifts, luggage lifts and service lifts, such as a dumbwaiter link all the decks on board, and faciliate the movement of crew, goods and service throughout the yacht.

Yacht elevators in superyacht design

With such discerning clientele, yacht lifts and elevators will certainly be much more elaborate and beautifully designed than those typically seen on shore. As such, design detailing has to be cleverly incorporated as not to compromise on the lift’s functionality, posing many challenges to specialists.

Wieneke van der Starre at Holland Marine Lifts explained, “Luxury superyachts are sailing works of art, there’s no doubt about that. Over the years, superyacht lifts have become more and more integral at the centre of these works of art, satisfying owner demands for aesthetics, technology and functionality.

“At Holland Marine Lifts, we’ve always worked closely with naval architects and interior designers on these installations, but, in past years, we’ve also been asked several times to work with artists; not only visual artists in the traditional sense, but also multimedia artists. In one of our latest projects, we successfully collaborated with a famous French glass artist, which resulted in a lift with an astonishing glass floor. Several of our other lifts are also wrapped with elaborate brass or copper pieces like aboard M/Y Nirvana (pictured above), and last year we designed an owner’s lift in which the floor and back wall were fully animated, which gives the illusion that you are descending to the bottom of the ocean when travelling down, and vice versa on the way up.

“The integration of a lift with art or high-tech novelties can only be successfully accomplished when there is a strong collaboration between both the manufacturer’s engineers, the architects, the yard and the artists. When this collaboration is cohesive, aesthetic craftsmanship and technical mastery unite and stunning results are achieved.” 

Glass Lift

Mike Brandt, owner of Lift Emotion added, “Over the years, we have had many strange requests for elaborate elevators, but most of the time these uber-strange requests only come about in the pre-design stages of the vessel. We have had a few concepts created by some young designers, which look more like a ride at an amusement park than an elevator, but we have always created innovative rotating elevators, pop-up elevators, platforms and mast elevators that are as practical as they are beautiful.”

The considerations of installing yacht lifts and elevators on board

When installing an on-board lift or elevator, it’s important that owners consider the basics. First of all, is there enough space? With the average lift door requiring a minimum of 800mm of opening space, a one-person lift simply does not exist, therefore owners need to ask themselves, “Can my vessel take a three to four-person elevator?”, particularly if wheelchair access is required. 

Whether for beauty or for work, the elevator will need to be large enough to keep up with the day-to-day passenger and load demands of the yacht, however it’s important to ensure that the lift is kept light enough as to not affect the stability of the vessel. It’s therefore important that design requests are submitted with the initial plans for new build and refit projects, so that all can be calculated correctly.

After seeing images of stunning elevators emerge from the industry’s favourite superyachts, Lift Emotion explained that there has been a recent increase in demand from smaller vessels whose owners now want to have elevators installed on board. Elaborate orders have now also become more prolific, although the costs of these are often not always fully understood by the client before entering into design talks. 

Lift design is always most dependant on the space and cost limitations set out by the client, and the finished look influenced by class and material choice. Mike explained, “One of the biggest challenges in designing elevators for superyachts is that there is always a lack of space to meet official free spaces, as per elevator rules. This means that special safety devices and solutions need to be thought about in detail to make a safe and reliable elevator.

“Most of the time, you will not want a traction-driven elevator installed on board a superyacht due to there being too much moving weight. Although larger companies tend to use the system used on most land lifts, we know this will not allow crew to do basic maintenance and trouble-shooting on board, therefore proving costly in the long run with emergency call outs. 

“All yacht lift and elevator suppliers must work to the needs of the notified bodies, and designs must be based around the European directive EN81 to ensure each is as safe as possible.”

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