Snøhetta has announced the completion of Europe’s first underwater restaurant. Situated in Lindesness, on the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline, the “Under” scheme serves as both a restaurant and a research center for marine life. Open to the public on March 20th, the half-sunken scheme forms a 34-meter-long monolithic break in the surface of the water, before resting on the seabed five meters below.
Situated at a point where sea storms from the north and south meet, and where marine species flourish in both briny and brackish waters, the Snøhetta scheme places itself at a unique confluence. Designed to fully integrate its marine environment over time, the scheme’s rough concrete shell will gradually transform into an artificial reef.
Upon arrival, visitors are greeted with a hushed, oak-clad foyer to contrast with the unruly outdoors, while rich interiors create a warm, welcoming atmosphere inside the restaurant. Textile-clad ceiling panels reference the colors of a sunset over the ocean, while the subtle elegance of the finely-woven panels lends a serene ambiance to the building.
The restaurant seats 35-40 dinner guests every night, in a dining room protected by half a meter-thick concrete walls. Its culinary focus is to create a fine dining experience based on high quality, locally-sourced produce, with a special emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture. Like a sunken periscope, the underwater restaurant’s massive window offers a view of the changing seabed through the seasons. Serving as the “panoramic eye” of the building, the eleven-meter-wide and 3.4-meter-tall window offers a visual gateway to connect guests with the marine wildlife.
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 under water, 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. -Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Founder and Architect, Snøhetta
Alongside the dining function, the restaurant will welcome interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior through measurement tools installed on and outside the building’s façade. The researches will document the population, behavior, and diversity of species living around the restaurant, with the ultimate goal of creating new opportunities to improve official marine resource management.
As described by the architects, the scheme is “a story of contrasts; the contrast between the landscape and the sea; above and below. The project underscores the delicate ecological balance between land and sea and draws our attention to sustainable models for responsible consumption. By focusing on the coexistence of life on land and in the sea, Under proposes a new way of understanding our relationship to our surroundings – above the surface, under the water, and alongside the life of the sea.”