Title: Open plan approach goes to sea

Pages: 44 - 47


Author: Robert Spark

Text: Open plan goes to sea
by Robert Spark

The first class entrance looking towards the smoke room, showing the use of glass for a large area of the bulkhead.
The continuation of the ceiling, wall timber and circular light fittings effectively brings together the two spaces. The four covering is a vinyl in a grey and green pattern. Along the aft bulkhead (behind the camera) is the shop.

One class of ship that has been introduced in European waters in ever-increasing numbers over the last few years is the car ferry. The joint expansion of car ownership and tourist travel has led to the introduction of both new ships and new routes. Many of these new vessels have interiors of a high standard, well tailored to the functional requirements of the services and passengers. With their many years of experience with ferries of all kinds, and their flair for good design, it is not surprising that the Scandinavians have produced some of the most striking examples.
Among the best designs are the latest ships of the United Steamship Co (DFDS) of Copenhagen. One reason for their excellence is the fact that they have broken away from some of the traditional features of ship interiors. This breakaway manifests itself in the 'open plan' approach to the public spaces, which avoids the solid bulkheads that tend to divide a ship into a series of unrelated rooms.
DFDS first adopted this open plan approach some years ago in two ships for the Copenhagen-Oslo route. Lounges, restaurants and entrances were assembled in one group, frequently separated only by plate glass divisions in thin aluminium frames. This very successful idea was adopted for the MS England, the 10,000 ton vessel introduced in 1964 on the Harwich-Esbjerg service. The England probably has one of the best interiors at present afloat: comfortable, functional, extremely well co-ordinated, and yet one which never attempts to pretend that you are anywhere except on a ship. When DFDS ordered a new ship - the Akershus - for its service between Frederikshavn and Oslo, it wisely decided to use the same basic interior design features as on the England, with certain changes to suit a different route and clientele.
These features include the use of glass for bulkheads, standard floor covering patterns and ceiling designs, only two basic kinds of timber in the public spaces, and standardisation of furniture. A design policy of this kind ensures that you get a well knit interior and also keep your costs down - both admirable ambitions. At present, the line has a sister ship to the England under construction. To be named the Winston Churchill, it will be introduced on the
Harwich- Esbjerg route next year, and the interior will follow the design pattern which was started with the Copenhagen-Oslo ships and success- fully continued and improved with the England and the Akershus.

The 6,000 ton Akersh us can accommodate 800 passengers and approximately 150 motor cars. Its speed is 19.5 knots. It is owned by the United Steamship Co. The builder was Helsingor Skibsvaerff & Maskinendyggeri. The decorative scheme is by the design department of the shipbuilder, and is based on the interior design of the England, which was the responsibility of Kay K0rbing.

The largest space on the Akersh us is the cafeteria, which seats 200. The aft bulkhead of this space is largely glazed, so that when the weather is good it provides open access on to the deck. The floor vinyl is the same pattern as that shown on page 44, but in grey and blue. All wall panelling is Canadian elm. The tables and chairs are a standard design used throughout the ship.

The precision of the window treatment represents both good design and a high standard of workmanship. The rosewood tables have timber underframes with flat aluminium sections which are decorative and also help to reduce vibration. Table tops are protected by a lacquer finish, while those in the bar area are surfaced in natural anodised aluminium. Chairs were specially designed, and incorporate frames of matt finished aluminium. Use of flat-section aluminium combines strength with a light appearance. Upholstery is covered in either light or dark green wool fabric, except for seats by the bar, which are covered in black leather.

The first class cabins are simple and functional, with off-white painted walls, white ceiling and vinyl floor. built-in make-up-table-cumwriting-desk has a lift-up lid with an illuminated mirror. This is very similar to the model used in the cabins on the England. Timber is Bokanga. The rug, curtains and bed covers are all standard DFDS designs in white and brown. All the first class cabins are air-conditioned and incorporate a toilet, shower and wash basin.

The schedule of the Akershus calls for both night-time and day-time travel. Apart from cabins, there are four second class lounges with reclining seats. These outboard areas have walls in Canadian elm and the standard pattern vinyl flooring; but there is a flush ceiling incorporating circular light fittings and small, individ sally controlled down-lights for night time use.

The second class dining saloon incorporates table and chair designs which are basically similar to those in the first class smoke room. The same flooring and light fitting design are also used, but wall surfaces are Canadian elm, relieved in the central area by vertical members in Wenge. The space is divided in two by a sliding glass wall and sheer net curtains. This enables the space to be split, so that if necessary only half is operated as a restaurant and the remainder as a lounge. There is a first class dining saloon which incorporates the same tables and chairs - the former in a different timber and the latter covered in black leather. Walls are finished in rosewood relieved by a decorative glass panel by the Danish artist Urup Jensen.

The recess at one end of a reclining seat lounge embodies storage racks for baggage and a large mirror. Also worth noting is the neat way that the fire- proof bulkhead door recesses into the wall area. The doors separating the space from the staircase beyond are fully glazed - a standard feature throughout the ship.

Entrances, lobbies and corridors receive as much design attention on the Akersh us as the public spaces. Corridors are painted light grey with vinyl flooring in a green marble pattern. For staircases and lobbies either rosewood or Canadian elm is used. Staircases are kept 'open' by the use of vertical timbers, as on the left. This technique was also used on the England. Graphics are standard throughout, non-illuminated lettering being in chromed steel, screwed to the timber wallpanels.

The main public spaces on the Akershus follow the traditional pattern of first class forward and second class aft.. The first class smoke room (traditional nomenclature for what is a lounge) is the full width of the vessel, and incorporates a small bar at one side. The timber is rosewood, great care having been taken to select matching veneers, while spaces between the uncurtained windows are covered in a Japanese grass paper. Structural members are encased in rosewood, and not left as grey painted steel as on the England. The ceiling, painted off-white, incorporates the air-conditioning system. The area in front of the bar has a terrazzo floor the remainder of the floor being covered by a carpet. It is the only space to have one. The bar has a heavily padded black leather top rail, the top being a solid slab of timber. Behind the bar is another decorative panel of coloured glass by Urup Jensen. The bulkhead on the opposite side of the bar incorporates a series of vertical timbers and also a large-screen television set.



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