Located in the remote village of Båly, Norway, Snøhetta completed the world’s largest underwater restaurant, called “Under”, which also means “wonder” in Norwegian. The 495-square-meter restaurant is fronted by a huge panoramic window that gives visitors a “unique view” of marine life.
It was open to the public on March 20th, this restaurant looks like a large concrete tube partly submerged in the North Sea and serves as both a restaurant, which can seat up to 40 people, and a research center for marine life.
Under was designed to be as simple as possible. It takes the form of a monolithic “concrete tube” that is 34 meters in length.
The walls are slightly curved and half-a-meter thick, providing optimal resistance against the forces of waves and water pressure.
While arriving at Under, you’re greeted with a hushed, oak-clad foyer to contrast with the unruly outdoors, as wooden planks cover its upper section.
The rich interiors create a warm, welcoming atmosphere inside the restaurant. An eight-meter flight of stairs leads down to a large dining area, walled by a gigantic transparent window to the ocean.
The concrete has been left with an exposed, rugged texture to encourage algae and molluscs to cling on. Over time this will create an artificial mussel reef that helps purify the water, and in turn naturally attract more marine life.
The restaurant is laid out so there are minimal reflections in the glass wall, which fills the room with natural light during the day, filtered by the greenish color of the water.
To enable visitors to observe this sea life through the acrylic windows at night, Snøhetta has teamed gentle lighting on the seabed with muted interior lighting.
“The idea was to have a gradient, starting with light colors to deeper colors at the seabed,” senior interior architect Heidi Pettersvold Nygaard explained.
In the main dining room, terrazzo flooring is paired with deep blue and green hued acoustic panels inspired by the seabed, seaweed and rough sea.
Meanwhile, the champagne bar above has warmer pink and orange tones to evoke shells and sand higher on the shore.
“Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries. 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.” said Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, the founder and architect of Snøhetta.