“Under,” the underwater restaurant in Norway, has only been open a few days but is already heading to the top of the list of destinations that people want to visit.
The Snøhetta-designed structure is the world’s first and largest underwater restaurant with a seating capacity for 100 guests. To top it all off, it doubles as a research center for marine life.
“Under” also means “below” and “wonder” in Norwegian. Like something out of the depths, half of the 111-foot long structure is above the waves with the rest sunken underneath, resting on the seabed below. It’s built around a rough concrete shell that will function as an artificial reef that is inviting to limpets and kelp.
The walls are also built to withstand the pressure and shock of the rugged sea conditions while at the same time, a massive panoramic window offers diners a stunning view of underwater life throughout the seasons and in all weather conditions.
Snøhetta Founder and Architect, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen said, “Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries. As a new landmark for Southern Norway, Under proposes unexpected combinations of pronouns and prepositions, and challenges what determines a person’s physical placement in their environment.
“In this building, you may find yourself underwater, over the seabed, between land and sea. This will offer you new perspectives and ways of seeing the world, both beyond and beneath the waterline.”
But the view is not the restaurant’s only attraction. The establishment will locally source high-quality food with an emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture. The Head Chef is Danish expatriate Nicolai Ellitsgaard who used to work in the acclaimed restaurant Måltid in Kristiansand. With him is a 16-person international kitchen team recruited from top Michelin restaurants.
Lindesnes is well-known in Norway for its unpredictable weather conditions which can go from calm to stormy several times a day. But despite the bleak environment, visitors will quickly be greeted by a hushed, oak-clad foyer inside the restaurant that helps to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere inside.
The ceiling panels are colored like a sunset dropping into the ocean in order to create the feeling of descending from land to sea as one descends the stairs. At the same time, the elegance of the textile-clad ceiling creates a serene ambiance to the whole experience.
The furniture also reflects the philosophy of the whole project. They are solid structures that do not mar the natural beauty of the raw materials.
But one of the most impressive aspects of Under is the fact that it also hosts a marine research facility.
Interdisciplinary research teams are welcome to study marine biology and fish behavior using cameras and other scientific equipment embedded on the facade of the restaurant.Population, behavior, and diversity of species can be easily documented through these instruments.
The collected data can then be programmed into machine learning tools that will regularly monitor the population dynamics of certain key marine species.
Snøhetta says that Under is a melding of contrasts, between landscape and sea as well as above and below. Through the structure’s design, they hope to highlight the delicate ecological balance between sea and land and call our attention to sustainable methods of responsible consumption.
“For most of us, this is a totally new world experience. It’s not an aquarium, it’s the wildlife of the North Sea. That makes it much more interesting. It takes you directly into the wildness,” Rune Grasdal, lead architect of Under, told Dezeen. “If the weather is bad, it’s very rough. It’s a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing the nature so close into you. It’s a very romantic and nice experience.”
“The idea was to make a tube that would bring people from above sea level down under the sea,” Grasdal said. “That transition is easy to understand, but it’s also the most effective way to do it. It also feels secure, but you don’t feel trapped.”
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