Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant Under Snøhetta
Located at the southern tip of Norway, “Under” is a semi-submerged restaurant designed by the renowned international architecture firm Snøhetta, offering an intimate encounter with the marine environment.
Under, meaning both “below” and “wonder” in Norwegian, is aptly named to reflect its dual purpose: a culinary destination and a research center for marine life. The structure is an architectural feat, embedded five meters below the North Atlantic Ocean’s surface and resting on the sea bed. The innovative design is not just a spectacle in sustainability but also stands as a monumental tribute to the aquatic biosphere.
Spanning a length of 34 meters, the restaurant’s robust concrete walls are a meter thick, designed to withstand the pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions. The structure is meant to integrate into its marine environment over time, functioning as an artificial reef that invites limpets and kelp to inhabit it, implicitly encouraging marine biodiversity.
Visitors start their gastronomic journey at the coastline, walking through a moist oak forest before entering the restaurant. The pathway into Under is lined with untreated oak planks, gradually descending into the building’s muted, textile-clad interior. Within, the dining area offers a panoramic view of the seabed through a 11-meter wide and 3.4-meter tall horizontal window, which serves as an interface between patrons and the sea.
The culinary philosophy of Under is grounded in the ‘local sourcing, purity, and simplicity’ ethos, with a focus on sustainable wildlife capture. The menu is predominantly seafood, with the chefs drawing on the fresh ingredients that the surrounding waters offer, harmonizing with a wine program that complements the delicate flavors of the cuisine. This harmonization extends beyond food, as Under also aims to educate its guests about the biodiversity of the sea, encouraging a dialogue about marine conservation.