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The waters in Norway are quite magical. They can freeze into stunning glaciers you can hike, carry you on boat-rides across the endless fjords and soon, they will envelop you while you’re enjoying your dinner. You read that right: the award-winning architecture firm Snøhetta (that has also designed Oslo’s National Opera) has unveiled the plans for what will be Europe’s first underwater restaurant, located in the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline. Ready to go ‘Under’?
As you begin your journey through the half-sunken into-the-sea restaurant, you will descend three levels. From the entrance and the wardrobe area down to the Champagne bar, which marks the transition between the shoreline and the ocean (you can witness this through a narrow acrylic window that cuts vertically down through the restaurant levels). When you’re at the Champagne bar, you can also 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. Here, you can enjoy Danish chef’s Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen’s high-quality cooking of locally sourced seafood – look out for ‘truffle kelp’, a locally sourced kelp speciality that tastes like truffles.
Under will also function as a research centre for marine life, 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. The aquarium-like structure will become a part of the marine environment, resting directly on the sea bed five metres below the water’s surface, like a sunken periscope. Snøhetta’s design takes the environment into careful consideration: the building is encapsulated in a concrete shell with a coarse surface that is friendly to mussels – the hope is that, over time, the submerged monolith will become an artificial mussel reef.
As part of its function as a research centre for marine life, Under will welcome interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behaviour. Norwegian researchers will attempt to train the wild fish with sound signals and discover whether they behave differently based on the seasons. The researchers will also help optimise the conditions on the seabed so that fish and shellfish can thrive in proximity to the restaurant.
The restaurant, which will be located by the village of Båly, will be able to accommodate around 100 guests, but there’s no hurry to book a table just yet. Snøhetta hopes to begin building next year, and is aiming to open in 2019. In any case, rest assured we will keep you posted!