Award winning Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has taken our society’s frenzied penchant for extreme dining experiences and turned it on its head with their latest project, a sublimely simple once in a lifetime experience that feels like it was pulled directly from our wildest daydreams: an underwater restaurant. Under, which has officially begun online reservations for its opening slated in April 2019, is a three level structure that will sit submerged off the coast of Båly, a sleepy town on Norway’s southernmost shore.
Half sunken into the rugged waters of the North Sea, the massive and monolithic restaurant and champagne bar is set to be the largest underwater restaurant in the world, rising up against the craggy shoreline like a sleek and spectacular rock formation, ensconced in a course concrete shell that provides an inviting surface for mussels and other marine life, which will purify the surrounding areas. More than an aquarium or art installation, this thoughtfully constructed structure will become a part of the marine environment over time, merging with its surroundings in a way that is organically harmonious and mutually beneficial.
The aptly named restaurant (“under” translates to “wonder” in Norwegian) sprawls across three levels: the top level functions as the entrance and wardrobe area, the middle houses a champagne bar, and the lowest level, which sits sixteen feet below the ocean’s surface, is where you’ll find the breathtaking dining room, which can hold up to one hundred guests, all facing the 36 foot wide panoramic window which acts as a “sunken periscope,” offering a staggering and constantly evolving view of the seabed and the marine life that inhabits it.
Snøhetta has taken steps to ensure that the otherworldly experience remains rooted in reality, at least in terms of safety. The walls of the restaurant are three feet thick and specifically designed to withstand Norway’s notorious wind and treacherous waves, and the changing weather patterns and dramatic conditions will provide a powerful and cinematic dining experience for those down below, immersing them in the tumultuous terrain of the sea during a time in which we typically stay away. Beyond restaurant hours, Under will also function as a research center for marine biologists and other researchers to study that same underwater wildlife.
Suffice to say an evening at Under will be a dining experience you’ll never forget, but lets not forget about the dining itself. Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard is up to the task of ensuring that the spread measures up to the hype, with plans for a 15- to 18-course set menu prominently featuring seafood and brimming with unique local ingredients such as sea arrow grass, salty sea kale, Norwegian berries and mushrooms, and more. The overall concept of the restaurant centers on the idea of immersion, and every aspect of this one of a kind futuristic experience has been fine-tuned to fill you with wide-eyed wonder, a full-bodied immersion of awe and delight that activates all of your senses.
As lead architect Rune Grasdal summarizes, “One of the benefits of this building is how it links nature and land, and how you can come safe from the land and in a very dramatic way go down through this concrete tube to the nature at sea level, and experience what normally is not experienced.” Reserve your spot here.