“Under”, Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant

“Under”, Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant

Architect
Snøhetta

HAMRAN Snekkerverksted AS
Location
Lindesnes, Norway | View Map
Category
Restaurants
Stories By
Snøhetta

GROHE

iGuzzini

Juergen Pollak Photographie + Film
© Ivar Kvaal
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct link
ManufacturersiGuzziniLASER BLADE XS PENDANT CEILING MOUNTED, Laser Blade XS High Contrast / ceiling, pendant, Low Voltage Track and Low Voltage Track pendant
Bathroom faucet supplierGROHEAtrio Icon 3D
textile design, producers of fabric and Soft Cell acoustic panelsKvadrat
acrylic windowsReynolds Polymer Technology
SuppliersSubmar

Product Spec Sheet
Bathroom faucet supplier
textile design, producers of fabric and Soft Cell acoustic panels
by Kvadrat
acrylic windows
Suppliers
by Submar

“Under”, Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant

Snøhetta as Architects

Under is not only a restaurant located below sea level but also functions as a research centre for marine life, providing a tribute to the wild fauna of the sea and the rocky coastline of Norway’s southern tip. 

Half-sunken into the water, the building’s 34-meter long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed five meters below. The structure’s half-meter-thick concrete walls are built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions. The rough exterior contrasts with the warm oak and textiles of the luxury interior dining area.

More from the Architects: 

Europe’s first underwater restaurant will welcome guests in Lindesnes, Norway on March 20th, 2019. Located at the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline, where the sea storms from the north and south meet, the project is situated at a unique confluence. Marine species flourish here in the both briny and brackish waters to produce a natural abundance in biodiversity at the site. The Snøhetta-designed restaurant also functions as a research center for marine life, providing a tribute to the wild fauna of the sea and to the rocky coastline of Norway’s southern tip. In Norwegian, “under” has the dual meaning of ”below” and ”wonder”. Half-sunken into the sea, the building’s 34-meter long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed five meters below.

 

The structure is designed to fully integrate into its marine environment over time, as the roughness of the concrete shell will function as an artificial reef, welcoming limpets and kelp to inhabit it. Lying against the craggy shoreline, the structure’s half-meter-thick concrete walls are built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions. Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive window offers a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions. The restaurant’s culinary focus is to create a fine dining experience based on high quality, locally- sourced produce, with a special emphasis on sustainable wildlife capture. Danish expatriate Nicolai Ellitsgaard from acclaimed restaurant Måltid in Kristiansand is the Head Chef, bringing a 16-person international kitchen team with experience from top Michelin restaurants. “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, challenging 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”.

 

Going Under

Lindesnes is known for its intense weather conditions, typically changing from calm to stormy several times a day. Upon arriving at the site, the visitor’s impressions of the unruly outdoors quickly dissolve as they are ushered through into the hushed, oak-clad foyer. Here, rough, wooden finishes and the sweet scent of timber transition into an elegant, oak staircase as one descends into the building. Dark, raw steel railings with brass tube handrails lead downwards to a softer interior as the ceiling surface changes from oak to textile. The warm, welcoming atmosphere inside the restaurant instills a sense of awe and mystery. As a metaphor for the journey of descent, the color of the textile-clad interior turns darker and more intense the deeper one goes below water. The bespoke textiles stretched over custom acoustic panels, reference the colors of a sunset dropping into the ocean, accompanying one’s passage down the stairs. At the entrance, the ceiling’s neutral color deepens into a sunset pink, intense coral, sea green, and finally culminates in a midnight blue as one arrives at the dining room. The subtle elegance of the finely woven ceiling panels lends a serene ambience to the building. On the mezzanine level and bar area, where the building touches the sea, a vertical window is cut into the side of the building, extending from above sea level down to the seabed. The window reveals the convergence of sea and air, with the volatile waterline dancing to the intensity of the wind.

 

At the seabed, in the 40-person dining room, lies the panoramic eye of the building. An eleven-meter-wide and 3.4-meter-tall horizontal window offers a visual gateway to the sea and connects the guests to the wildlife outside. The view from the window will evolve gradually throughout the day and seasons, with the color of the water shifting from sapphire blue during a cold winter day, to emerald green in the summer season, when the algae set in. The sophisticated lighting system carefully minimizes the reflectivity of the panoramic window and maximizes the view of sea life outside the restaurant. 380 LED lamps are installed on the ceiling panels, illuminating the dining area with subtle yet pointed light. The light can be easily adjusted to respond to differing light conditions inside and outside the building. The seabed outside will be lit up with artificial lighting during the dark hours, in order to attract fish.

 

An important focus for the choice of materials has been to vary the types of materials and finishes according to their use and placement in the restaurant. Rougher wood finishes characterize the entrance area and the back of house, evolving into increasingly refined finishes when moving towards the heart of the building; the dining room. In close collaboration with Hamran, a local carpentry workshop that has cultivated its renowned craftsmanship since 1930, the walls, roof, and floor are all clad in locally harvested Norwegian oak. Further, a furniture series was designed exclusively for the restaurant, with a chair as the central artifact. The chair is designed as one continuous form that and mimics the way that the branches naturally progress from the tree stem in the angled corners. Through employing traditional handicraft methods, the furniture series represents the philosophy of the project as a whole; to build solid structures for the future without compromising the natural beauty that lies inherent in the raw materials.

 

Building Construction Method Under was built on a barge as a concrete tube shell twenty meters from the site. The windows were installed prior to the submersion. During submersion the structure floated on its own and was delicately moved to its final location by a separate crane and tugboats. Following the submersion, structural work was completed, and the building was bolted to a concrete slab anchored to the bedrock beneath the seabed. In order to ensure a proper connection to the bolts on the concrete slab the construction team filled the structure with water to make it sink. After ensuring that all bolts were fully tightened, the water was drained away, allowing the interior work to begin.

 

Marine Research An equally important part of the project is the building’s facilitation of marine research. The restaurant will welcome interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior, through cameras and other measurement tools that are installed on and outside the facade of the restaurant. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomic Research (NIBIO) and other research centers seek to learn how wild fish can respond to sound signals and to study fish behavior throughout the shifting seasons. The researchers will also help create optimal conditions on the seabed so that fish and shellfish can thrive in proximity to the restaurant. “We have observed and documented marine biodiversity in the area for over four years already, but with Under in place the observation opportunities change dramatically. The ability to be physically present at the seabed provides a newfound possibility to observe marine life with precision and patience”, says marine biologist Trond Rafoss, who has been a key collaborator in the project. “Usually, when diving, one has time restraints and is not able to see everything, yet the comfortable environment of the restaurant allows us to study the sea life live for time intervals unparalleled by other means. As one can stay in the restaurant for as long as one wants, that opens opportunities to discover species, their behavior and stages of life that has never been seen before”.

 

The researchers have already discovered species of jellyfish that they did not know existed in the area through the restaurant window. Under is particularly well-suited for studying the small organisms that are typically not picked up by camera. Rafoss can already report of having observed small European lobster larvae, i.e. 5-6-millimeter creatures that have only ever been studied in controlled laboratory environments but never actually observed in nature before, on the restaurant window. The surface of the window has also become a popular habitat for starfish and other small creatures clinging to the window. The researchers’ aim is to document the population, behavior and diversity of species that are living around the restaurant, through cameras and live observation. The ultimate goal of the research is to collect data that can be programmed into machine learning tools that monitor the population dynamics of key marine species on a regular basis, thereby creating new opportunities to improve official marine resource management.

 

Local Produce and Global Ambitions

The culinary philosophy of the restaurant is closely connected to that of the building itself. Based on local produce harvested with careful consideration of the balance of nearby flora and fauna, eating at the restaurant is a journey through the landscape of Lindesnes; from locally harvested seafood, shells and kelp to wild meat in the game season in late fall. To manage and reduce bycatch – species unintentionally netted while catching target species – the restaurant team has a unique focus on also integrating those ingredients into their menu, reducing what would otherwise go to waste. The restaurant also aims to bring attention to underappreciated seafood, using ingredients that are rarely served elsewhere, such as stone crab and rugose squat lobster. “Our aim is to display the diversity that can be found in the South of Norway, where we do not have much of one thing, but we have a little bit of everything”, states Head Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard. The servings of the restaurant will be unlike anywhere else, employing ingredients spanning from limpets and mahogany clam, to sea cucumber and local lamb from Lindesnes. A dish made of dulse and bladderwrack pushes the boundaries for what can go as a dessert. The kitchen team forages and harvests several of the ingredients themselves in proximity to the restaurant, which can be an adventure in itself given the oftentimes rough weather conditions. Ellitsgaard and his team are in regular dialogue with the marine biologists to understand how and when to harvest from the sea in the most sustainable way. They hope to be able to harvest ingredients from the building itself that can be put on the menu of the restaurant. The kitchen and the researchers also collaborate to attract fish to the window, enabling the marine biologists to study the species more closely and at the same time creating an interesting view for the restaurant guests.

 

 

A Visual Story In addition to the restaurant itself, Snøhetta also designed Under’s visual identity and website to transport the visitor to the experience of being at Under, presenting the elements that characterize the project; the unique landscape, the handpicked ingredients, the philosophy of the chef and the thinking behind the architecture. The typographic choice, Portrait from Commercial Type, is a reference to the refined roughness and materiality of the exterior, while the color palette is a subdued interpretation of the interior textiles. The logo is an abstraction of the building’s form and its tilt into the sea. All these elements are tied together on the website, inviting the visitor into the Under experience. With a dynamic layout system, the website provides possibilities to change its appearance with the shifting seasons of Lindesnes. Divided into three sections, you can immerse yourself into the different aspects of the project and book your journey to Under.

 

An Other-Worldly Experience

Under is a story of contrasts; the contrast between the landscape and the sea; above and below. The contrasts between the warm oak and textiles of the interiors, and the rough concrete façade that can withstand the most powerful storms and waves. It is a metaphor for the contrasts of life; the rough and delicate; the brutal and tender; the thunder and quiet. Under allows the visitor to peek into the North Sea, deciphering the life that emerged here some four billion years ago. 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.

Iconic Projects deserve Iconic Products

GROHE as Bathroom faucet supplier

Inviting guests to dine beneath the sea, Under by Snøhetta perches on the rocky shore Norway’s southern-most point, with one end dipping below the water. The building’s rough concrete exterior allows marine life to cling to it, thus integrating into the environment. The interior, however, features softly undulating walls, woven panels and oak cladding. The playful nature of the design extends right down to the details with GROHE ICON 3D printed faucets located in the bathrooms. 

More from the Manufacturer: 

Surely one of the most arresting and adventurous designs for a restaurant in years, Under invites guests to dine at the bottom of the sea. The building appears to rest at an angle on the rocky shore of Norway’s southern-most point, one end of it dipping below the water, constantly washed by the waves. Inside the dining space touches the sea bed five meters below, with a huge glass wall offering views of the ocean floor.

The rough concrete exterior of the building is monolithic, and designed to allow marine life to cling to it, integrating it into its environment. Inside however the building serves to reassure diners as they enter this alien world. Softly undulating walls, woven panels and oak cladding add warmth and quiet. In collaboration with local carpentry workshop Hamran, Snøhetta created seating that highlights the natural beauty and strength of wood. The playful innovation of the building extends to GROHE ICON 3D printed faucets in the bathrooms. GROHE ICON 3D faucets have been created bespoke for the space, via cutting-edge 3D printing technology 

Under. Europe's first underwater restaurant

iGuzzini as Manufacturers

For Europe’s first underwater restaurant, a special approach to lighting was required. Here, the lighting schemes leaves the general environment in semi-darkness, respecting the depth of the sea and leaving marine life undisturbed. Compact luminaires are concealed completely within the ceiling and appear to be turned off when seen from different perspectives. Further to this, the lighting system required for table service has been reduced to a minimum thanks to the use of tags that interact with the luminaires. The result is an atmosphere of luxury and intimacy that at the same time respects the marine environment.

More from the Manufacturer: 

At the southernmost tip of the Norwegian coastline, at a small place called Båly in the municipality of Lindesnes, Snøhetta has designed Europe’s very first underwater restaurant.

The building’s imposing monolithic form was built on a barge moored at its future location and then lowered into the sea and fixed to the ocean bottom using steel rods. The result is a structure that rests on the craggy shoreline, but is partly submerged beneath the waves so it actually becomes part of the marine environment. Under was designed with particular care for its marine context. Its elegantly sleek concrete structure has a deliberately rough surface for mussels to cling to. Over time, as this mollusc community grows, 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.

With its half meter-thick concrete walls, the structure is built to withstand the pressure and shock of rugged sea conditions. Its massive panoramic acrylic window - 11 x 4 m - with thickness of 288 mm offers a view of the sea bed and the way it changes with the seasons and different weather conditions. Under’s architecture, menu and teaching mission are all designed to give visitors an experience that stuns the senses and combines a feeling of wonder and awe at the power of nature.

The restaurant also houses an interdisciplinary research team who study marine biology and fish behaviour. These researchers will help create the best possible conditions for fish and molluscs to prosper in, next to a restaurant that can comfortably seat 100 guests. A modest lighting system in the restaurant draws diners’ attention to the underwater life outside the window.

The visitor’s experience involves a descent through three levels, just like a deep sea dive, but with no wet suit or oxygen tank. From the entrance, guests enter the wardrobe area and then continue down a floor to the Champagne Bar, which marks the transition between the shoreline and the ocean. This physical transformation is emphasized by a narrow acrylic window that cuts vertically through the restaurant levels. From the bar, guests can look down at the seabed level of the restaurant, where two long dining tables and several smaller tables are placed in front of the large panoramic window.

The restaurant's colour scheme follows the logic of the different construction areas. So the Champagne Bar is characterised by the subtle colours of the surrounding coastline and its shell, rock and sand sediments, while the Dining Room is submerged in darker blues and greens inspired by the seabed, seaweed and restless waves. An intimate atmosphere is also created in the restaurant interiors thanks to the contrast between the structure’s warm oak panelling and the rough colouring of its concrete shell. It is the shell that houses the lighting system too. Designed by AF Lighting who tested various solutions before making their final choice, it consists of approximately 400 one-cell, recessed Laser Blade XS luminaires positioned in a way that ensures their light is focused on the tables. At the same time, it leaves the general environment in semi-darkness to respect the depths of the sea and leave the marine life undisturbed. The compact dimensions of the luminaires mean they are completely concealed in the ceiling and thanks to their special features they look as if they are off even when seen from different perspectives.

The service lighting system, required for table service, has also been reduced to a minimum thanks to the use of tags that interact with the luminaires. So the Laser Blade XS luminaires come on when waiters approach and turn off once they have passed. This means an atmosphere of intimacy is created for the guests and respect for the marine environment is guaranteed.

Under | Underwater Restaurant | Snøhetta

Juergen Pollak Photographie + Film as Photographers


At the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline by the village of Båly, a small place close to Lindesnes, Snøhetta has designed Europe’s very first underwater restaurant.

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