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Dive on Under: Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant is Open for Business

October 5, 2018

Why eat somewhere that has a view of the ocean when you can now eat IN the ocean?

At the southernmost point of the Norwegian coastline by the village of Båly, renowned Norwegian architectural and design firm Snøhetta has designed Europe’s very first underwater restaurant.

Under, a dining experience under water
(All images provided by: MIR/Snøhetta)

Inside Europe's new underground restaurant Under.Appropriately named Under, this latest dining experience submerges guests 18 feet below the icy waters of the North Atlantic and invites them to take in a dramatic backdrop of marine life on the ocean floor.

Half-sunken into the sea, the 110-foot long structure is a colossal concrete slab whose form breaks the water surface to lie against the craggy shoreline. Under officially opened its doors for business March 20, 2019.

Under restaurant from the outside view

It’s Snøhetta’s first time undertaking an underwater project. The firm has also worked on notable projects like the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion and the Times Square public space renovation in New York.

[Plan your trip to visit Under in southern Norway now.]

Inside Views of Under

The one-of-a-kind restaurant features three levels and comfortably accommodates 80-100 guests throughout its 5,300-square-foot space, according to Snøhetta’s website.

Under restaurant stairway

Under restaurant window The entrance, near a tide pool, takes guests into a wardrobe area, where they are ushered to a champagne bar that’s meant to symbolize the transition between the shoreline and the ocean.

As an additional 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.

This physical transformation is emphasized by a narrow acrylic window cutting vertically down through the restaurant levels.

From the bar, guests 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 36-by-13-foot panoramic window.

[Related: Your Guide to Reusable Straws - Sip Your Way to Sustainability]

“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.”

Under seating in the restaurant by the window that looks into the sea
(All images provided by: MIR/Snøhetta)

Under restaurantThe restaurant’s interior features a smooth wooden finish, creating a warm and intimate atmosphere that contrasts with the rough concrete exterior. Under’s color palette follows the logic of the different stories of construction, according to Gaute Ubostad, initiator and co-owner of Under.

While the champagne bar is characterized by colors inspired by the coastal zone, with its subdued colors evoking the sediment of shells, rocks and sand, the dining room is submerged in darker blue and green colors inspired by the seabed, seaweed and rough sea.

[Hotel from Under designer: World’s First Powerhouse Building in the Arctic Circle]

Snøhetta’s team chose materials not only for their aesthetic qualities, but also for their sustainable characteristics and ability to create a good indoor climate. Its meter-thick walls will withstand pressure and shock from rugged sea conditions and advanced heating pump technology that utilizes the stable seabed temperature functions to heat and cool the building year-round.

Inside Under the restaurant under the water in Norway

Lighting was also crucial during the design process—the interior lighting is discreet so as to avoid reflections of the restaurant in the panoramic window and outside lighting helps continually provide views of the sandbank during wintertime.

Under outside lighting
(All images provided by: MIR/Snøhetta)

Helping the Environment

More than an aquarium, Under was designed to become a part of its marine environment and with sensitive consideration for its geographic context and aquatic neighbors.

Aerial view of Under, Europe's new underground restaurantFor example, the coarseness of the exterior concrete invites mussels to cling on, which will densify over time, eventually becoming an artificial mussel reef that functions dually to rinse the sea and naturally attract more marine life.

The lighting from inside and installed on the seabed will also help wildlife flourish on the sandbank outside the panoramic window.

Under, Europe's new underwater restaurantUnder will also welcome Norwegian researchers to study marine biology and fish behavior, who will create optimal conditions on the seabed to help marine life thrive near the restaurant.

Plan Your Trip Now

One can reach Under, located in the Lindesnes region, a variety of ways. Consider booking a flight to Kristiansand Airport (the closest airport to Under), or renting a car. You can also arrive by train, bus or ferry, which are more useful options for any last-minute traveling.

Read next: Fantini’s Italian Headquarters and Hotel Ties Mission and Values

*All images provided by: MIR/Snøhetta

This article was originally published on 10-5-2018 and updated on 7-3-2019.


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About the author
Adrian Schley | Associate Editor

Adrian Schley is an Associate Editor for i+s, where she has been covering the commercial interior design industry since 2018. Her work can also be found in BUILDINGS and Meetings Today.