Snøhetta designs Europe's first underwater restaurant

Under restaurant
© Snohetta

In Norwegian, the word "under" also means "wonder."

We're fans of Snøhetta, the Norwegian architecture firm that has designed some of the greenest buildings in the world. Then there is their latest proposal, Under, Europe's first underwater restaurant at the southernmost point of Norway.

Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s monolithic form breaks the water surface to lie against the craggy shoreline. More than an aquarium, the structure will become a part of its marine environment, coming to rest directly on the sea bed five meters below the water’s surface. With meter-thick concrete walls, the structure is built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions. Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive acrylic windows offer a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions.

These are the architects of a series of PowerHouse buildings that have to repay the embodied energy debt of their construction and materials over the life of the building, pouring meter-thick concrete walls under water. But never mind; the concrete will have:

...a coarse surface that invites mussels to cling on. Over time, as the mollusk community densifies, the submerged monolith will become an artificial mussel reef that functions dually to rinse the sea and naturally attract more marine life to its purified waters.

And when the restaurant is closed, it will become "a marine biology research center welcoming interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior," which, of course, you can do through the giant window of a restaurant.

According to the usually reliable Daily Mail, the food will be rustled up by Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen and the menu will likely feature seafood. However, I once had a seafood lunch in the Aquarium at Disney World and felt guilty with all the fish swimming around; it sort of felt weird, like eating a burger in a field full of cows.

If they are going to be educational and discuss fish behaviour they might want to note that fish have feelings too and are much smarter than you think. And if there is octopus on the menu, you should just stand up and leave. Perhaps it would be better if it was vegan.

While the champagne bar is characterized by colors inspired by the coastal zone, with its subdued colors evoking the sediment of shells, rocks and sand, the dining room is submerged in darker blue and green colors inspired by the seabed, seaweed and rough sea. The warm oak of the restaurant interior contrasts with the rough concrete shell, creating an intimate atmosphere. Materials are chosen not only for their aesthetic qualities, but also for their sustainable characteristics and ability to create a good indoor climate.

More at Snøhetta

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