READING: Snøhetta Designs World’s Largest Underwater Restaurant
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IF YOU’VE GOT PLANS TO VISIT NORWAY next April, good news. You could be feasting like a king right under the sea in just five months.

“Under”, which dips five metres into the North Sea, opens this April. It is here you’ll find Europe’s first – and the world’s largest – underwater restaurant. Spanning 500 squares metres across three levels, it is surrounded by the waters of Spangereid. The structure is 34 metres long, and is designed by Snøhetta, a Norwegian firm that was behind Oman’s Muttrah Fish Market and the Oslo Opera house.

An Oasis Under Rough Waters

The water currents blow hot and cold, and you will have to brave cold, strong winds to get there. But it is worth the journey. You’ll fly into Kristiansand airport, then have to drive for an hour before you embark on a walk down a trail (there are bits of marine trivia along the way). This leads you to a glass walkway which bridges the gap between the coast and the entrance.

Step in, and it’s another world. The 2,500 ton structure is designed to withstand high water pressures and extreme weather, thanks to thick, reinforced concrete, hardy acrylic windows and its slightly curved body. There’s a conscious effort to make everything sustainable, from the warm oak interior to the heating technology. It also relies on the temperature of the seabed to warm and cool the restaurant all year round.

The ‘Under’ structure spent the first six months being built near the coast, before it got towed into position and secured to the sea floor by 18 anchoring points. 
Photo by Snøhetta
The restaurant seats a hundred guests, whose panoramic view will be of cod, seals and all sorts of marine life. 
Photo by Snøhetta

The idea for such treacherous conditions, though, was entirely Snøhetta’s. “We convinced the client to build where the sea is rough,” says Rune Grasdal, a senior architect. “We thought this would better capture the nature of the area. It’s also what makes this project more spectacular, compared to other underwater restaurants in the world, as they are in very controlled areas.

“I think the most exciting experience will be visiting the restaurant during rough weather.”

A Seasonal Menu

All this work for a spectacular view. Diners will be able to watch the cod, seals and sharks go by. Under plans to breed an artificial mussel reef through its coarse concrete shell, which will then attract even more marine life. Researchers will also be welcome to visit and study the surroundings. In return, they’ll help optimise conditions on the seabed so that fish and shellfish can thrive in proximity.

What of the eating? At Under, it won’t get any fresher. One can look forward to a 15- to 18-dish menu conceived by Nicolai Ellitsgaard. The former head chef of the now-defunct Måltid will be experimenting with locally foraged ingredients and obviously, lots of seafood. You’ll see plates of seabirds, lobster, mussels and truffle kelp, each carefully paired with a complementing wine.

The restaurant opens this April 2019. Book yourself a seat right here.

Meet Head Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard. He has a passion for local food and a knack for foraging in the wild. 
Photo by Snøhetta


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