OSLO – Designers of “Europe’s first underwater restaurant” have shared the plans of a building that will comprise a rugged concrete box with half of its body on the coastline, and the other half sunken underwater.
Designed by the Oslo- and New York–based firm Snøhetta, the structure will be partially submerged within the North Sea, along the shores of Båly, in southern Norway.
The building will be called Under – a word that the architects say is very similar to “wonder”, when translated into Norwegian.
“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” said Snøhetta.
“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.”
The architecture firm has ensured that the structure will not harm marine life.
By encapsulating the building in a concrete shell, the surface will invite mussels to cling to it. This means that, over time, Under will serve as an artificial mussel reef. And since mussels have the ability to cleanse the surrounding water by removing significant amounts of pollutants, the structure will help purify the sea and thus attract more marine life.
Visitors will enter the building along the craggy shoreline, before moving to the bar, which is located at the first level of the restaurant (it’s here where the structure is first submerged below sea level). From there, guests can move down one more level, to the dining area, which opens up to an enormous acrylic window, framing the sea some 17 feet under water.
The walls of the concrete structure will be several feet thick, making it strong enough to endure the pressure and conditions from the rugged North Sea.
While the building will primarily serve as a restaurant, the space will also be used as a marine biology research center. When Under is not open for business, “researchers from Norwegian research centers will seek to train wild fish with sound signals, and will study whether fish behave differently throughout different seasons,” said Snøhetta in a statement.
The dining room will be painted in deep blue and green hues “inspired by the seabed, seaweed and rough sea”. There will also be a champagne bar, featuring more subdued tones, intended to evoke shells, rocks and sand.
The large panoramic window, measuring 11 metres wide, spans the entire end wall of the space.
However, if you suffer from a fear of open waters (also known as thalassophobia), then you should probably avoid making reservations at this underwater restaurant.
Snøhetta is led by architects Craig Dykers and Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. The firm has designed a number of waterside buildings, most famously the Oslo Opera House, as well as a hotel for Norway’s Lofoten archipelago and a boathouse for a summer camp.