" Snøhetta - Under."
Designed by Snøhetta to resemble a sunken periscope, the 495-square-metre restaurant is fronted by a huge panoramic window that gives visitors a view of marine life. This makes it a very similar total size as to the brief I am provided meaning windows of this size underwater are feasible which I feel will be important for viewing any potential impacts in the future. This window is 11m x 3m and is made of acrylic. Another window punches through a wall across the 2 levels and helps to show the depth the building goes down to (5m) as well as allowing daylight to penetrate. This prevents the 5m descent from feeling claustrophobic at all.
The building can seat up to 40 people in a restaurant but also serves as a marine research centre and is Europe's first underwater restaurant.
"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 of Under, told Dezeen.
"If the weather is bad, it's very rough. It's a great experience, and to sit here and be safe, allowing the nature so close into you. It's a very romantic and nice experience."
It joins to the rough Norwegian terrain via a bridge, this is not only functional but I love how bridges can be used to retain an existing terrain. You are able to cross a bridge and look down at the environment around. This environment can change and it still allows for use of the building in most cases which is really nice. It is not nearly as destructive as other solutions, perhaps pushing the building into the terrain where you would have to excavate.
Under is a 34 metre long concrete tube with walls that are half a metre thick to provide optimal resistance against the forces of waves and water pressure. From researching all of these precedents it seems that the lower floor of my building will have to be concrete although not as thick as I expected - only 500mm compared to 300mm of a standard wall.
An important thing to note with this design's materiality is that the concrete has been left with an exposed, rugged texture to encourage algae and molluscs to cling on. Over time this will create an artificial mussel reef that will help to purify the water and attract more marine life in turn.
I feel that this could be quite poetic and powerful in my design. Almost like nature is reclaiming the earth after humanity ruined their chances. If humanity won't act and will just let their habitat flood through ignorance, then there is always someone who will benefit and care for the earth, in this case mere molluscs and algae in a way. If humans don't want to care then so be it, that is your choice, nature will have it's way. If humans are going to be so negligent, let's let nature reclaim it then. If you don't want it, they can have it and benefit.
"The idea was to make a tube that would bring people from above sea level down under the sea," Grasdal added.
"That transition is easy to understand, but it's also the most effective way to do it. It also feels secure, but you don't feel trapped."
The entrance is clad in untreated oak which over time will fade into grey tones to complement the raw concrete. This oak continues into the interior and contrasts with the exterior creating a warm atmosphere which again prevents the tube like form from feeling claustrophobic.