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At the southernmost point of the craggy Norwegian coast, perched on a barge in the sleepy town of Båly, Europe’s first underwater restaurant, is already causing a splash.
Named Under – which has the double meaning of “sunken” and “wonder” in Norwegian – the sleek concrete monolith sits half submerged in Norway’s temperamental waters like an ice cube bobbing in a just-poured G&T. Simultaneously intrusive yet blending in with the environment, the design is cutting-edge but the result could equally pass as a coastline relic.
This unique eatery is the brainchild of Snøhetta – the architectural minds behind Oslo’s Opera House and Norway’s new banknotes – who strive to “enhance our sense of surroundings, identity and relationship to others and the physical spaces we inhabit”. A restaurant which is as much (if not more) about its situation as its form, the structure would be incomplete without the aquatic life which surrounds it.
The dining experience is dependent on the 16-foot deep subterranean views afforded by Under’s colossal panoramic window and strategically lit-up seabed, while with time the surrounding marine environment will entwine itself with the restaurant thanks to a coarse concrete shell that encourages mussels to cling to it. This will transform the structure into artificial mussel reef which functions both to purify the surroundings and in turn attract more aquatic life.
Never one for single-use spaces, Snøhetta’s groundbreaking concept will double up as a research centre for marine biologists and other researchers. Under also encourages diners to engage with their maritime surroundings through informational plaques that line the trail that leads diners to the water’s edge. As well as fostering public engagement and awareness about Norway’s biodiversity, the mounted plaques play a role in weaving the overall narrative of Under: immersion.
Under is now accepting bookings for dates beginning April 2019.
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