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Snohetta creates Europe’s first underwater restaurant 'Under' the sea

International design firm Snøhetta unveils a first-of-its-kind underwater restaurant cum marine life research centre, called Under, in Lindesnes, Norway.

by Jincy Iype Aug 14, 2019

In Norwegian, the word ‘under’ possesses the dual meaning of ‘below’ and ‘wonder’. Taking cue from there is Europe’s first underwater restaurant, called Under. Partially submerged in the sea, this fine-dining restaurant, in Lindesnes, has been designed by architecture and design firm Snøhetta, and is located at a unique confluence - at the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline, where the North and South seas meet.

The restaurant opened early this year and yields a comprehensive relationship of its surroundings – above the surface, under the water, and alongside the life of the sea, while providing a world-class cinematic and culinary affair to its visitors. Under would also function as a research centre for marine life, staying wondrously true to its name.

  • Aerial view of Under by Snøhetta| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Aerial view of Under by Snøhetta Image Credit: André Martinsen
  • Under emerging from the Norwegian Sea| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Under emerging from the Norwegian sea Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal

The restaurant as an artificial reef

The building’s 34m long monolithic form breaks the surface of the water to rest directly on the seabed 5 m below. The structure has been designed to fully integrate into its marine environment over a period of time, as the roughness of the 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.

“As a new landmark for Southern Norway, Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries,” says founder and architect, Snøhetta, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.

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. – Snøhetta

Under - the construction

The restaurant was constructed as a concrete tube shell, built on a barge 20m off the site, where windows were cut into the skin prior to the submersion. At the time of the submersion, the structure floated on the water’s surface, and was later taken to the site and bolted to a concrete slab anchored to the bedrock. In order to reinforce this joinery, the designers filled the shell with water to make it sink, and once the bolts were completely tightened, the water was drained out. The interior work of the structure began henceforth.  

  • Under by Snøhetta, Norway| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Under by Snøhetta, Norway Image Credit: Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge
  • View of Under, by Snøhetta| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Under by Snøhetta, Norway Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal

Inside the Under

The unruly outdoors of Lindesnes’s intense weather conditions find a calm nudge as visitors arrive at the restaurant’s oak clad foyer, and from there one can descend into the building through a staircase. Dark, raw steel railings with brass tube handrails connect the three levels of the restaurant - the entrance above sea level, a bar at the mezzanine (where the structure touches the sea) and a 40-seater dining room at the seabed.

  • Oak and textile clad interiors| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Oak and textile clad interiors Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal
  • Raw steel railings with brass tube handrails leading inside the restaurant| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Raw steel railings with brass tube handrails leading inside the restaurant Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal
  • A palette of warm colours greet the visitors at the entrance| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    A palette of warm colours greet the visitors at the entrance Image Credit: Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge
  • A vertical window extends from above the sea level down to the seabed| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    A vertical window extends from above the sea level down to the seabed Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal
  • Stairs leading to the dining room| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Stairs leading to the dining room Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal

The restaurant looks out into the sea through apertures of various sizes, cut into its façade. One such is a sleek vertical slit that extends from above the sea and goes down to the seabed, while the other is an 11m wide, 3.4m high, panoramic window framing the dining area. Around the seating by window, the largely dark interiors of the dining area receive a faint pool of light, like the dramatic turquoise of the sea. The use of midnight-blue textile cladded walls along with adjustable lights on the ceiling panels and window creates a dramatic ambience under water.

  • The panoramic eye of the building, at the seabed| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    The panoramic eye of the building, at the seabed Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal
  • Dining room| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Dining room Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal

Norwegian wood furnishings

Remarkably, the materials have been chosen according to their usage and placement in the restaurant; the entrance and rear areas employ rougher wood finishes that transition into finer swathes towards the heart of the building - the dining room. In partnership with a local carpentry workshop called Hamran, the walls, roof, and floor were all clad in locally harvested Norwegian oak.

  • Furniture specially crafted for the restaurant interiors | Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Furniture specially crafted for the restaurant interiors Image Credit: Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge
  • Restaurant Interiors | Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Restaurant Interiors Image Credit: Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge
  • Restaurant Interiors| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Restaurant Interiors Image Credit: Inger Marie Grini/Bo Bedre Norge
  • Restaurant Interiors| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Restaurant Interiors Image Credit: Ivar Kvaal

Delivering a stunning visual and sensorial experience through its fine dining and architecture, the restaurant Under pays additional consideration to conserve and in due time, accrue marine life, in terms of quality and quantity. The restaurant invites researchers to study marine biology to enable optimal conditions for the aquatic life to thrive in proximity to the restaurant.

The design team at Snøhetta has spun a tale of contrasts – a convergence of rough concrete façades with warm oak and textile interiors. Inherent of life’s variance, the restaurant’s unique design displays a wonderful mélange of the vicious and tender, existing firmly between Norwegian land, air and sea.

  • Entrance Level Plan | Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Entrance Level Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Mezzanine Bar Level Plan | Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Mezzanine Bar Level Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Restaurant Level Plan | Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Restaurant Level Plan Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Elevations| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Elevations Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Section A| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Section A Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Section B| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Section B Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Exploded View| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Exploded View Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Sectional render| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Sectional render Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta
  • Site Plan render| Under| Snøhetta| STIR
    Site Plan render Image Credit: Courtesy of Snøhetta

Project Details

Name of the Project:  Under
Location:
Lindesnes, Norway
Client: Lindesnes Havhotell (Stig Ubostad and Gaute Ubostad)
Gross area:
495 sqm
Year of completion:
2019
Architect:
Snøhetta

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About Author

Jincy Iype

Jincy Iype

Iype is a trained architect, who often indulges in writing and amateur photography. She was a cinephile and a melophile even before she knew what those words meant. She is inclined towards architecture journalism, and can usually be found curled up reading a book, or cooking for therapeutic relief.

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