The canals of Venice are defined by the traffic that uses them, with the vaporetto service jostling for water space with the myriad delivery boats and working vessels, the scattering of tourist-focused gondolas and the relatively extravagant water taxi service, traditionally styled and built and equipped with extrovert drivers keen to flourish their pin-point maneuvering skills in the narrow waterways. And accompanying all this is the relentless clatter and noxious smell of marine diesel.

Nuvolari Lenard are a superyacht design studio, with a portfolio that includes many of the world’s leading shipyards. The studio is based in Venice and used the sudden unexpected stillness of lockdown to explore ways of making the city’s canals a more pleasant place to be.

Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard led a design team that has re-shaped the water taxi as a sybaritic hybrid, lavishly appointed, classically styled but capable of silent, emission free running. ‘As Venetians, Dan and I feel a strong connection with the city and have experienced first-hand the damage that is being caused to its delicate structures, through air and noise pollution as well as physical erosion,’ says Nuvolari.

The diesel-electric boat cleverly exploits the typical Venetian taxi journeys for maximum effect, using regular blasts back and forth across the lagoon to the airport to charge its batteries, allowing silent operation to be switched on when returning to the city itself. The 14-seat boat, Thunder, was built at the local Cantieri Vizianello, a seasoned supplier of high-end ’water limousines’ to the Venetian market. After a year of testing the model is now ready for sale. A lavish leather interior complements the chrome and wood; this is not a minimalist statement and the designers have already had a request from a client to integrate an example of the 9.2m vessel as a superyacht tender. §