Snøhetta–the favorite architecture studio of every supervillain with taste–has designed what it claims will be the world’s first energy positive hotel above the Arctic Circle, at the feet of the Svartisen glacier in northern Norway.
The area’s stunning natural beauty was why it was so important that the hotel, called Svart, have a near-zero environmental footprint. According to the architects, the building would be the world’s first hotel to comply with something called the Powerhouse standard. This is a set of rules–created by Snøhetta, Skanska, and a number of other companies–that dictate a new standard for sustainability. A Powerhouse-compliant building has to generate more renewable energy over a period of 60 years than the total amount of power necessary to produce the materials, construct the building, sustain all its energy requirements, and then completely demolish and remove it from its location.
In the case of Svart, achieving that Powerhouse standard qualification would involve many factors. First, the designers would target an 85% reduction of the building’s yearly energy bill compared to a modern hotel by optimizing its construction materials and methods. The hotel rooms and installations would also be strategically placed on its circular facade to receive the maximum amount of sunlight at the most necessary times. The company also plans to use geothermal wells connected to heat pumps, as well as solar panels.
The Powerhouse standard would be crucial to building in “such a precious environment,” said Snøhetta’s founding partner Kjetil Trædal Thorsen in a statement, “with clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site.”
Svart, the name of the hotel, means black and blue in old Norse language, which is a reminder of the blue water and dark rocks that frame the glacier. The designers claim that its architecture was inspired by two vernacular structures from the region: the “fiskehjell,” a wooden structure used to dry fish, and the “rourbe,” a traditional summer house that’s raised over water thanks to poles. These poles create space to dock boats and kayaks.
If you’re already wondering how to get to Svart, you will have to wait a little bit. First, a company spokesperson told me via email that the “construction will start in approximately one year and the hotel is scheduled to be completed in 2021.” Then you will only be able to access it using an energy neutral boat connecting to the Norwegian city of Bodø.