In the quaint village of Baly on the south coast of Norway, five hours away from Oslo, sits a large, monolithic concrete tube half submerged in the sea. It may seem like something out of a science fiction film, but this is actually Under – Europe’s first underwater restaurant.
The brainchild of Oslo- and New York-based architecture and design studio Snohetta, the unique restaurant is made to resemble a sunken periscope, where patrons will literally dine with the fishes, five metres below ground level.
A wonder (or should we say, W-under?) of architecture, the restaurant is divided into three levels, with the mainstay being a large glass wall offering panoramic views of the unique marine life found in the North Sea, from pollock and cod to urchins, crabs, lobsters, mini sharks and even seals.
In stark contrast to the raw, unfinished exterior – deliberately left exposed to encourage an artificial reef to grow – the inside is warm and cosy, with thick walls made to withstand waves and water pressure, bespoke furniture and oak accents. The design of certain areas, such as the main dining room, reflect the underwater theme, with terrazzo flooring and blue and green panels evoking the seabed, and a champagne bar with pink and orange hues resembling sand and seashells.
The menu is no less impressive, aiming to educate the public on the sea and marine biodiversity. As such, expect fresh fish and seafood, alongside seabirds and wild sheep from the surrounding regions.
If you’re worried about the prospect that there won’t be fish during your visit, fret not. After hours, the space doubles as a lab for biologists studying fish behaviour and their reactions to light and sound. By using artificial lighting to attract plankton, fish and other species are attracted to the area, guaranteeing that diners will get a reliable view.
The restaurant is now open for bookings, with seating available for 40 guests each night.