The Norwegian architecture firm behind Europe's first underwater restaurant has shared designs for a first-of-its-kind, energy-positive hotel in the Arctic Circle. Snøhetta's sustainable Svart hotel would take advantage of its spectacular surroundings by hosting guests in a ring-shaped structure with panoramic views, aiming to preserve the natural beauty by keeping its environmental footprint to a minimum.
The Svart hotel would be the first hotel to be built to the energy-positive Powerhouse standard. This initiative was dreamt up by Snøhetta in collaboration with other construction firms, real estate companies and environmental NGOs and aims to prove that energy-positive buildings can be established in icy cold Norway.
To adhere to the Powerhouse standard, a building must generate so much energy during 60 years of operation that they offset the energy used to produce the construction materials, the construction itself, the operation and the disposal of any waste. So how to design something like this in the harsh Arctic climate?
Snøhetta's architects spent a year mapping the way solar radiation bounces around the site's mountainous terrain, where the Svartisen glacier approaches the waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord. This is what led them to the circular design, with the rooftop covered in solar panels produced using hydro energy to again reduce the carbon footprint of the construction.
The firm says that the long summer nights in the Arctic will actually mean that these panels yield more power over a year than would be harvested further south. During these summer months with the sun high in the sky, carefully crafted terraces keep the facade cool. In the wintertime with the sun closer to the horizon, large windows will take in maximum light to warm up the interior space. The hotel also makes use of geothermal pumps connected to heat wells to stay toasty in the winter.
"Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site," says Founding Partner at Snøhetta, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. "It was important for us to design a sustainable building that will leave a minimal environmental footprint on this beautiful Northern nature. Building an energy positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features of the plot; the rare plant species, the clean waters and the blue ice of the Svartisen glacier."
Snøhetta says that the hotel will use only 15 percent of the energy of a traditional hotel, and that the design also honors traditional architectural elements of the region. The A-shaped supports beneath are inspired by wooden structures used to dry fish called "fiskehjells" and traditional fisherman's houses called "rorbues." These poles also support boardwalk that can be used for leisurely strolls in the summertime and boat storage in the winter.
Snøhetta is yet to detail a timeline of construction for the Svart hotel.
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