Europe’s first underwater restaurant will not only be a feast for the senses, but also an inspiring centre of marine research in Norway
Norway’s much-anticipated underwater restaurant, Under, will officially open on 20th March on the southernmost point of the Norwegian Coastline in Lindesnes, Norway – a destination known for its intense weather conditions.
Designed by Norway-based architectural firm Snøhetta, the restaurant, submerged five metres underwater, will also function as a research centre for marine life, providing a tribute to the wild fauna of the sea and to the rocky coastline of Norway’s southern tip. “Under is a natural progression of our experimentation with boundaries,” said Snøhetta Founder and Architect, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.
Under is surrounded by a teeming marine environment bursting with biodiversity. The structure of the building is designed to fully integrate into the marine environment over time, with the concrete exterior forming a pseudo reef. Built to withstand the pressure and shock of rough sea conditions, Under offers diners interesting, changing views of the seabed throughout varying seasons and weather conditions.
The restaurant seats approximately 40 guest creating an intimate atmosphere in a dining room protected by half a meter-thick concrete walls. At the seabed, five meters below sea level, lies the panoramic eye of the building – an eleven-metre-wide and 3.4-meter-tall horizontal window offering a visual gateway to the sea and a connection between the guests and the wildlife outside.
The cuisine, meanwhile, is focused on locally-sourced produce and emphasises sustainable wildlife capture, with head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard at the helm. Under will offer a lengthy 15-18 course set menu that changes with the seasons and the local ingredients that are available, from small flavour-bomb mouthfuls to larger, more filling courses. In addition to seafood, courses will include various seabirds and other meat including locally raised, wild sheep. And as per Chef Nicolai’s request, each dish will be paired with a matching wine or non-alcoholic drink to create the perfect balance of flavours.
An equally important part of the project is the building’s facilitation of marine research. The restaurant will welcome interdisciplinary research teams studying marine biology and fish behaviour, through cameras and other measurement tools that are installed on and outside the facade of the restaurant. The researchers’ aim is to collect data and document the population, behaviour and diversity of species that are living around the restaurant through cameras and live observation.
Ellitsgaard and his team are in regular dialogue with the marine biologists to understand how and when to harvest from the sea in the most sustainable way. They even hope to be able to harvest ingredients from the building itself that can be put on the menu of the restaurant. The kitchen and the researchers will also collaborate to attract fish to the window, allowing the marine biologists to study the species more closely while also providing an interesting view for the restaurant guests.
“As a new landmark for Southern Norway, Under… 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,” Ellitsgaard said.
A six-month waiting list is expected for this quirky and unforgettable dining experience. Get in quick if you’re thinking of heading to Norway this year.