At the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline by the village of Båly, Snøhetta has designed Europe’s very first underwater restaurant. With its immediate proximity with the forces of nature, the restaurant, which will also function as a research center for marine life, is a tribute to the Norwegian coast and to Lindesnes – to the wild fauna of the sea and to the rocky coastline of Norway’s southern tip.
Under’s namesake holds a double meaning: In Norwegian, “under” can just as well be translated into “wonder.” 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.
Through its architecture, menu and mission of informing the public about the biodiversity of the sea, Under will provide an under-water experience inspiring a sense of awe and delight, activating all the senses – both physical and intellectual.
Outside opening hours, parts of the restaurant will be dedicated to a marine biology research center welcoming interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior. The researchers will also help create optimize conditions on the seabed so that fish and shellfish can thrive in proximity to the restaurant.
Under has been designed with sensitive consideration for its geographic context and aquatic neighbors. The sleek, streamlined form of the building is encapsulated in a concrete shell with 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.