Restaurant – At the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline by the village of Båly, Snøhetta’ has completed the partly submerged UNDER restaurant which invites diners to explore the forces of nature while functioning as a research center for marine life as well.
In Norwegian UNDER means both “wonder” and “under”. “The project 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.” Say at Snøhetta to Archipanic.
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.
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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.
Muted lighting from the inside of the restaurant and installed on the seabed will help stage the wildlife flourishing on the sandbank outside the 11 x 4-meter panoramic acrylic window.
The restaurant will also welcome interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior. Researchers from Norwegian research centers will among other seek to train wild fish with sound signals and will research whether fish behave differently throughout the shifting seasons. The researchers will also help create optimize conditions on the seabed so that fish and shellfish can thrive in proximity to the restaurant.
“Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries, says Snøhetta Founder and Architect, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. “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”.
• All images: courtesy of Snøhetta.