Europe is getting its first underwater restaurant and it’s going eco.
The travel industry has faced tough criticism in recent years for stripping the planet of natural resources in the aim of making money from tourism. However there are efforts to regain the balance, with 2017 being named the International Year of Sustainable Tourism.
Norweigan-based architecture firm Snøhetta, the design company behind the National 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York and the Norwegian National Opera house in Oslo, is doing just this. Their architects have designed an eco-friendly underwater restaurant – the first ever underwater restaurant in Europe.
The restaurant will sit over the edge of the Norwegian coastline, near a little village called Båly.
Named Under, which means ‘wonder’ in Norwegian, the monolithic structure will be made of rough-edged concrete for a distinct purpose. The coarse outer surface will invite mussels to cling to it, which will then over time create an artificial mussel reef. This will serve two functions – the mussel reef will both rinse the sea and naturally attract more marine life to its purified waters.
Under will sit just above the sea bed
The design is an incredibly challenging type of project. It is similar to the submerged hotel suite in Tanzania and Philippe Starck’s underwater wine cellar built in a lake in Bordeaux. However this kind of invigoration back into the natural environment is not something that an architectural structure will have ever accomplished before on this scale.
Construction on the design will start in February 2018, and the estimated completion date will be at the beginning of March 2019.
Once opened, Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard Pedersen will take up residency there to serve locally sourced seafood. Specialties of the area include mussels and truffle kelp – a kelp which takes of truffles.
Until Under opens, here are the best underwater restaurants in the world which are already hosting guests.
This seafood restaurant is located 500 metres off the shore from the Per Aquum Niyama Resort, and six metres under sea level. Built to look like a submarine, the restaurant is nestled just above the reef.
Accessible only by speedboat transfer, the restaurant is aquatic themed (of course) and features capiz shell-covered panels and a clam-shaped bar. Guests can hope to spot hawksbill turtles, butterflyfish and parrotfish in the surrounding reefs.
Al Mahara, Dubai
Located in the Burj Al Arab Jumeriah Hotel, Al Mahara is one of the most expensive underwater restaurants in the world.
The interior design is extravagant. A floor-to-ceiling aquarium, fish scaled walls, gold clam shell seating and coral-inspired lighting fixtures are particular highlights.
Last year, the restaurant welcomed on board British seafood chef Nathan Outlaw, who holds two Michelin stars in the UK. Scallops served with charred lime is his staple dish.
Aquarium Restaurant, Nashville USA
You wouldn’t think of Nashville as a location for one of the biggest aquarium restaurants in the world. Yet with a 200,000-gallon aquarium, the restaurant in Nashville’s Opry Mills Mall, homes more than 100 different species of exotic fish.
The restaurant is set up for children — it hosts mermaid performances in the tank, as well as diver shows.
Guests staying in the famous over-water villas can head under the water to restaurant Sea at Anantara Kihavah Villas in the Maldives. The restaurant features glass windows all around, and a mirrored ceiling to reflect the surrounding sealife.
Sea’s top dishes include their poached lobster medallion and the red mullet filet wrapped in a lobster carpaccio.
If you want to know more about underwater travel destinations then read our guide to the best underwater hotels in the world.