It’s been said that as a human species, we know more about the vastness of space than we do about our own oceans. They’re still a mystery to us. But, like all mysteries, the ocean does hold a sort of dangerous intrigue for most of us. Why else would we be crazy enough to build underwater restaurants and hotels that allow us to be as immersed as possible within the whole other watery world that is beside our own?
Last year, Snøhetta – an international architecture company based in Norway – announced plans for the world’s most environmentally friendly hotel. The company are not newcomers within the design world and planned to build their hotel in the Arctic circle. However, this year, it seems that the underwater restaurant that the company designed has finally been finished.
The name of the new restaurant is quite simple: Under. It has room to seat 100 guests when it’s at capacity, making it the largest underwater restaurant currently in the world. Not just that, but it’s also the only restaurant of its kind in Europe. The restaurant actually has two functions: to offer diners a unique and once-in-a-lifetime dining experience, as well as serve as a marine life research center.
The building itself is 111 feet long. It sits partially submerged into the ocean, its design lending itself to integrating with the surrounding environment since the building is constructed out of rough concrete with serves as the perfect base for an artificial reef system.
The walls are thick enough to withstand the water pressure. In addition, the windows are also large enough for guests to enjoy a full view of the seabed.
Architect Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, the person who founded Snøhetta, has commented that Under is simply a natural progression of their boundary experimentation.
“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,” the architect stated.
Thorsen added, “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.”
And if you guessed that the restaurant has a focus on fine dining, then you would have guessed correctly. Under offers a fine dining experience that features locally-sourced cuisine. The restaurant staff is comprised of 16 experts, among them being Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard.
The area in which Under is located happens to be the municipality of Lindesnes, an area known for harsh weather conditions. But guests need not worry, when they go they will be sure to step into a warm and welcoming restaurant.
Under’s interior was designed with a resemblance to nature in mind. The ceiling panels are a warm pastel color, meant to remind you of a setting sun, while their woven texture provides a certain atmosphere with ambiance. Also accompanying the nature theme is the simple, still aesthetically-pleasing furniture – all made out of rugged materials.
As previously stated, Under is also going to serve the purpose of being a marine research facility. That means that research teams will be welcomed to study marine biology and behavior with the help of the multitude of cameras and measuring tools that have been installed on the exterior.
Snøhetta has said that the contrast between land and sea is very important in Under, as well as creating a balance between the two worlds. That is why Snøhetta tries to draw attention to sustainable and responsible consumption with the restaurant.
“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,” lead architect Rune Grasdal said in an interview with Dezeen. “If the weather is bad, it’s very rough. It’s a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing 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,” added Grasdal. “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.”
What do you make of Under? Do you think it’s a good idea? Would you like to see more sustainable restaurants like that popping up? Do you think it’s important to draw attention to the critical need for sustainability and responsible consumption in our oceans? Let us know what you think.