Europe's first underwater restaurant
Located at the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline, where the sea storms from the north and south meet, Under is situated at a unique confluence. Marine species flourish here in the both briny and brackish waters to create a natural abundance in biodiversity at the site, as well as fresh produce for the chef's menu. The 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 functions as an artificial reef, welcoming limpets and kelp to inhabit it. With the thick concrete walls lying against the craggy shoreline, the structure is 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.
Experimentation with boundaries
Under is a story of contrasts; the contrast between the landscape and the sea; above and below. 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.
It is a natural progression of Snøhetta's experimentation with boundaries. As a 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.
Kjetil Trædal Thorsen Snøhetta co-founder and architect
2 Rich interior
Lindesnes is known for its intense weather conditions, which can change 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. The rich interiors create a warm, welcoming atmosphere inside the restaurant.
Photo: Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge
3 Multicoloured textiles
As a metaphor for the journey of descending from land to sea, textile-clad ceiling panels reference the colors of a sunset dropping into the ocean, accompanying one’s passage down the stairs. The subtle elegance of the finely woven ceiling panels lends a serene ambience to the building. The multicoloured custom textile – also called Under – was developed with Kvadrat and clads the 137 soft cells acoustic panels covering the ceiling of the restaurant.
4 Locally made furniture
In collaboration with local carpentry workshop Hamran, Snøhetta also designed a furniture series exclusively for the restaurant, with a chair as the central artifact. The chair is created as one continuous form that mimics how the branches naturally progress from the tree stem in the angled corners.
Through 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 inherent in the raw materials.
5 Marine Research
An equally important part of the project is the building's facilitation of marine research. The restaurant welcomes interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behavior through cameras and other measurement tools installed on and outside the restaurant's facade.
The researchers aim to document the population, behavior, and diversity of species living around the restaurant through cameras and live observation. The 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 regularly, thereby creating new opportunities to improve official marine resource management.
6 The Gastronomy
The restaurant seats 35-40 dinner guests every night in a dining room protected by half-a-meter-thick concrete walls. Its culinary focus is to create a fine dining experience based on high-quality, locally-sourced produce, emphasizing sustainable wildlife capture. Danish expatriate Nicolai Ellitsgaard from acclaimed restaurant Måltid in Kristiansand is the Head Chef, bringing an international, 16-person kitchen team with experience from top Michelin restaurants.
7 Visual identity and website
Snøhetta designed Under's visual identity and website to transport the visitor to the Under experience, presenting the elements that characterize the project – the unique landscape, the handpicked ingredients, the gastronomical philosophy, and the thinking behind the architecture.
The visual elements are tightly connected to the architecture, from the submerged logo to the subdued color palette that interprets the interior textiles.
The logo is an abstraction of the building's form and its tilt into the sea. The typographic choice, Portrait from Commercial Type, refers to the refined roughness and materiality of the exterior.
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.
Visit the website at under.no.
8 Behind the scenes
Watch the BBC Travel Show to find out more about the making of Under and meet some of the people behind it.
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