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Snøhetta, Under, Restaurant, Norwegen, Unterwasser, Meer

A Picturesque Seascape: Under by Snøhetta

Let us take a look at marine painting, a form of figurative art that depicts the sea as a main theme. We need only think of the storm and shipwreck motifs that appear in masterpieces by Ivan Aivazovsky and William Turner - the naval reviews, battles at sea and open seascapes beneath cloudy skies - that express the natural force of the sea.

The latest project by Snøhetta could possibly have served as a scenic setting for Turner or Aivazovsky. Under is the first underwater restaurant in Europe and a centre for marine research. Located at the southernmost point of the Norwegian coast, where the storms from north and south collide, the 34-metre long monolith rises from the surface of the water. The complex building process for Under started as a concrete-pipe hull on a barge, around 20 m from its current position. Once the shell work had been completed, the water-filled structure was sunk and then screwed to a concrete slab anchored to the ocean floor.

Half-sunken in the sea, Under’s outer shell is conceived as an artificial reef; over time, the structure will integrate completely into its marine environment. Lightly arched concrete walls that are half a metre thick provide resistance to the rough power of the waves. Like a submerged periscope, the massive window in the restaurant gives visitors a view of the ocean floor.

The space begins with an oaken stairway whose ceiling gradually darkens as visitors descend. Just past the entrance, the colour of the wood transforms into a crimson sunset, intensifies into a delicate sea green and finally culminates in a deep midnight blue - a play of colour that gives the interior of the building a striking resemblance to the varying nuances found in the seascapes of Aivazovsky and Turner. The masters of marine art would have loved it.

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