Norway is the first European country to have a submarine restaurant
You can do pretty much anything you like in Europe. Ski, surf, sandboard, explore Roman ruins, climb volcanoes, admire fine art in the company of cats, sleep in a castle, and spot bears, wolves, whales and dolphins. But eat in an underwater restaurant? Surprisingly not.
That could soon change, however, thanks to a Norwegian design firm called Snøhetta. It has unveiled plans for the continent’s first submerged dining space, named Under, which it hopes will be built near the village of Båly on the country’s south coast.
From the outside it looks like a concrete container that’s been casually tossed into the shallows, but inside there will be a restaurant with space for up to 100 guests – and a huge observation window offering briny views of the North Atlantic.
A coarse exterior means it will double as an artificial mussel reef, and when it’s not serving up gravlax and akevitt to awe-struck diners, Under will act as a marine research centre.
“More than an aquarium, the structure will become a part of its marine environment, coming to rest directly on the sea bed five meters below the water's surface,” explains Snøhetta, which is based in Oslo and New York. “Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant's massive acrylic windows offer a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions.”
Those varying weather conditions - Norway is renowned for its harsh winters - will be withstood thanks to metre-thick walls.
The typically Scandi wooden interior will feature three levels - an entrance and wardrobe, a champagne bar, and the main restaurant. Blue and green colours will evoke the ocean.
“On a day of rough sea, you can feel a hint of fresh, salty ocean spray against your face as you enter the restaurant,” says Snøhetta. How nice. But don’t reach for your diary just yet - construction hasn’t even started. It hopes to begin building work next year, with a view to opening in 2019, if you can wait that long.
In the meantime, you’ll have to make do with an underwater restaurant that’s already up and running. Which means going to the Maldives.