Ahoy, Oculus!

When the Oculus finally makes the grand leap from animated concept to cruise above the world’s most premier cerulean seas, shore-side eyes will join company with those who have already ogled and ahhed at the ship’s progressive renderings.

It’s the boat’s unique design that piqued people’s interest and has been causing a stir amongst megayacht and design enthusiasts alike. The concept comes courtesy of Harvard-trained architect E. Kevin Schöpfer, who founded the Boston-based Ahearn | Schöpfer and Associates more than 30 years ago. The firm’s projects run the gamut from the traditional European-style Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, Massachusetts, to the out-of-this-world International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico. Oculus represents Schöpfer’s first foray into the water world. “I started looking at [yachts] from the interior design point of view and I thought it was the right extension of high-end residential,” Schöpfer says. “The more I looked at them, the more I realized I liked the outside as well.”

With Oculus, Schöpfer used his experience in architecture and interior design to carve out an untouched U.S. market, which he hopes will seduce yachters in search of boat profiles that break through more than just water. When he first decided to embark upon the yacht scene, Schöpfer didn’t want his place in the trade to be etched by the conventional lines and angles associated with long established yacht designs. “I saw that traditional yachts weren’t progressing a lot,” he explains. “I saw that there was a niche where someone could explore something a little more robust.” He sought to make waves in a completely different way.

Schöpfer brought the Oculus to life by way of a fortuitous meeting with digital animators Tangram 3DS. The animation firm was looking to tread into the yacht market right around the time Schöpfer launched Schöpfer Yachts, in 2008. Fish and squid were the inspiration for their first collaboration. More like an enormous whale because of its size, Oculus’ stunning design plans are the inaugural fruit of their partnership.

With speeds that can top at 25 knots, the 250-foot ship will boast a super super yacht composition that brings to mind a variety of sea life. Schöpfer’s most obvious innovation is the ship’s reverse configuration that upends the front of the vessel. The bow resembles the smooth forehead of a dolphin at the moment it breaks the surface of water. At the stern, the ship cradles one of its three expansive decks between the toothless upper and lower lips of an open-mouthed barracuda and finishes off the look with the help of swooping circular windows for eyes. Oculus’ hull features elongated and curved window carvings that are reminiscent of the markings on an orca. Set at a low profile, the Oculus allows for side recreational areas that utilize retractable panels to keep rough waters in the ocean. This exterior feature also makes accessing docked sea sport vehicles less of a hassle. Schöpfer’s website describes the Oculus’ unique and innovative bodywork an “elegant expression of symmetry and structure.”

With regard to the nonlinear innovations outside, Schöpfer’s designs provide an airy and light-filled setting for the conveniences and surfaces that yachters expect in a ship’s interior. “There’s sometimes a big disconnect between the outside of yachts and the inside—and that’s not a bad thing,” Schöpfer explains. “Many people want a very traditional inside, and that’s fine. I feel that [design] should all flow together. In this case, I said let’s combine it all and do both the architecture and interior.”

Aboard, the long-range yacht will accommodate up to 12 guests within sleek and luxurious settings. Taking a page from the vast ocean, 12-foot ceilings will appear endless above guests in the first level’s main salon. Also on that level will be a cylindrical, double-height dining room, central stairway, and an elevator tube.

On the Oculus’ second level, plans call for a sprawling dedicated owner’s suite with well-appointed living and sleeping quarters. Four freestanding columns will serve dual purposes as structural dividers for the fluid space and ideal locations for bath and storage areas. Bridging the second and third levels is the separate owner’s stairway between the third level’s aft private salon, deck, and water feature. Other third floor highlights are a pilothouse, separate captain’s quarters, and a complementing deck and water feature at the opposite end of the ship.

Although Oculus is still in its concept stage, Schöpfer has teamed up with naval architects Sparkman & Stephens to build the ambitious creation. “What I always try to do in my business is get the best people around me. In my research, I found that everybody thought they were the best. So I approached [Sparkman & Stephens] after Oculus was far enough along so that they could get a sense of it, and they agreed to join forces,” Schöpfer comments.

While Schöpfer offers a pretty impressive idea of what the ship’s overall structure will resemble, he’s careful to leave room for his affluent clients’ discerning preferences. “Because there is no particular client here,” Schöpfer says about the Oculus design process, “we’re sort of inventing it as we go along [to see] what the ideal environment could be both inside and out.” There have been serious inquiries from like-minded individuals.

A self-described restless thinker, Schöpfer’s inventive design abilities show no signs of ebbing. He has already unveiled his second unique aquatic venture under his Schöpfer Yachts brand. Much larger than its older sister Oculus, Infinitas spans 300-feet and is a dramatic personification of the infinity symbol.