Underwater restaurants and nightclubs aren’t unheard of. The Maldives boasts three in total: Ithaa Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel, Sea Restaurant at the Anantara Kihavah Villas, and Subsix, a club that’s only accessible by boat from Niyama Resort. Then further afield, there’s Al Mahara at the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, UAE, the Aquarium Restaurant at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville, USA, and the Cargo Hold Restaurant in Durban, South Africa.
However, there’s an even bigger and more ambitious underwater project that will soon be built. Norwegian studio Snøhetta has now designed Under, Europe’s very first restaurant located undersea. It will be situated on Norway’s southern coastline, very near a small village called Båly, and won’t only serve as an eatery. Under will also be used as a research centre for marine biologists.
This remarkable concrete structure looks like a half-sunken ruin, leaning on the shoreline and reaching five metres down to the seabed. At the bottom-most part of Under is its eatery, out of which you can view the marine life through gigantic acrylic windows.
Now, you might say concrete has been used for practicality’s sake here, given how durable it is. But ‘Under’ has not been designed with only human occupants in mind. The designers at Snøhetta have taken into consideration the area’s sea life, explaining: “More than an aquarium, the structure will become a part of its marine environment.”
Basically, the building’s long, monolithic form and coarse surface will allow a substantial quantity of molluscs to cling to it, which means that Under will also function as a man-made reef around which numerous forms of marine life will thrive.
It’s often humans who flourish in environments made largely out of concrete. In catering to more than one species, however, Snøhetta’s ‘Under’ emphasises the material’s positive effect on our neighbours under the sea.
Photography: MIR and Snøhetta.