Ten architecture students at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis have produced a working boat prototype, using expanding polyurethane spray foam as their primary material.
The master’s students are following in the steps of the likes of Frank Gehry, Greg Lynn, and Zaha Hadid, who all have recently designed custom yachts. Paired off in twos, teams designed and tested a half dozen smaller prototypes, which they tested in the Grand Basin in Forest Park near the Washington University campus. Two of the prototypes were chosen to move forward to further development and a full size prototype.
The goal of the project was to test the material possibilities of a product that is easily found in typical hardware stores, and usually used for housing insulation. The expanding foam for the project was provided by Fenton, MO–based manufacturer Convenience Projects.
“The first half of the project was about learning what the material can do. What are its capacities?” Master’s candidate Benjamin Newberry, told WUSTL’s campus journal. “How do you convert it into something that floats?”
Frank Gehry, an avid boater, recently finished FOGGY 2.0, an 80 foot long sailboat he designed for his friend, real estate investor Richard Cohen. In 2013 Zaha Hadid unveiled plans for a 420-foot superyacht prototype which is being used a base design for further investigations by Hadid and Hamburg-based shipbuilders Blohm+Voss. Greg Lynn launched his own carbon-fiber 42 foot racing yacht last year. Lynn used the sailboat as a means of investigating the possibility of monocoque construction with composite materials.