Europe's first underwater restaurant offers views of the seabed
Visitors to Norway can now dine both on and with fish in an impressive new restaurant by Snøhetta. Appropriately named Under, the building is part-sunk into the sea and is encased in a concrete shell designed to withstand the harsh conditions on the seabed of Norway's rugged southern coast.
Likened by Snøhetta to a sunken periscope, the 34 m (111 ft)-long restaurant was built atop a barge a short distance from where it now rests in what sounds like an impressive work of engineering.
"Under was built on a barge as a concrete tube shell 20 m [65 ft] from the site," explains Snøhetta. "The windows were installed prior to the submersion. During submersion, the structure floated on its own and was delicately moved to its final location by a separate crane and tugboats. Following the submersion, structural work was completed, and the building was bolted to a concrete slab anchored to the bedrock beneath the seabed. In order to ensure a proper connection to the bolts on the concrete slab, the construction team filled the structure with water to make it sink. After ensuring that all bolts were fully tightened, the water was drained away, allowing the interior work to begin."
The 600 sq m (6,458 sq ft) building sports 1 m (3.2 ft)-thick concrete walls that are designed to withstand a "100 year wave." Visitors enter into an oak-lined foyer before descending down a staircase into the restaurant proper. In the bar, a window is cut into the side of the wall vertically, extending from above sea level down to the seabed.
Finally, in the restaurant at the bottom, a large panoramic acrylic window enables diners to gaze at the ocean floor at a depth of 5 m (16 ft) below the water's surface.
In addition to serving as a restaurant, Under will host marine research. The aim is to use cameras and other instruments installed on its facade to collect data that can be used to monitor the population of marine life.