Europe’s first underwater restaurant, named Under, has been completed by architecture firm Snøhetta, on the southern coast of Norway. Aiming to present the absolute best of marine life, this elegant half restaurant, half aquarium offers diners an experience like no else.
As if a thin rock has just slid into the water, the design of Under was intentionally simple and understated. Snøhetta were actually mimicing a sunken periscope in the visions of the restaurant, keen not to affect the beautiful Norwegian coastline too much.
The star of the show, as is clear to see, is the huge window to the water which spans the entirety of the front of the building. Giving diners a look at real marine life offers a very new culinary experience, connecting the diner much closer with the food they are being served.
Made of sturdy concrete tough enough to withstand the pressures from the water, the firm also very cleverly left the rugged exterior as it is. This is so that overtime, mussels and algae will attach themselves, creating a man-made reef that will attract more wildlife for the diners to enjoy while they feast upon the food.
“For most of us, this is a totally new world experience. It’s not an aquarium, it’s the wildlife of the North Sea. That makes it much more interesting. It takes you directly into the wildness”
Rune Grasdal, lead architect.
The tube is 34 metres in length, and in an attempt to prevent people feeling claustrophic (as some could given it’s 5 metres beneath sea level), they decided to make it an open, continuous space with three separate floors.
At the bottom lies the restaurant, with cooler, blue lighting to reflect the depth of the level. A champagne bar occupies the second floor with pinker tones to evoke the feeling of the beach, and the top floor is the foyer and the entrance.
Although the building will operate out-of-hours as a lab for marine biologists, it’s true purpose is to please people with food, but also to make them aware of the food they eat.
Under is being led by head chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen, whose ethos is creating the best dishes by making the absolute most from the ingredients of the restaurant’s surroundings. Not to drown the fish, but make it sing.
“Fresh ingredients and pure, naked flavors are of utmost importance to us. At the same time, we want to provide an unique dining experience that ushers our guests beyond their current comfort zone”
Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen
True Norwegian simplicity and elegance, the food will match the tone of the architecture in it’s authenticity.
If you like the sound of Under, you’ll have to turn up with a few bob in your pocket with the only set menu, the ‘immersion’ menu, setting you back £199, and if you want to enjoy your fish with a glass of wine, you’ll need to add another £128 to that.
Opening to the public in April, there is no doubt that Under will have the attention of the culinary world when the experience is revealed.
Wanting to spearhead creativity, Nicolai explains his vision for the food, and hopes he can elevate and revolutionise the public perception of Norwegian food.
“Just on the other side of our iconic window – the ocean is bursting with fresh delicacies from the sea, so the journey from the kitchen to the plate is minimal.”
The front of the entrance is covered by oak, which over time will fade to match the shade of the concrete, and the interior furniture is all bespoke, with oak tables teamed with angular chairs and ceramics designed by a local artist using sand from the seabed.
Snøhetta’s work on this project is very much in line with their previous works, of simple but elegant design, serving it’s purpose.