Under, a new restaurant that descends 16 feet below the cold waters of Lindesnes, Norway, doesn’t just serve seafood and locally sourced meat and vegetables found on this dramatic coastline. Through a collaboration with marine biologists, the building—which has a dining room that features a panoramic window looking out on the seafloor—also helps scientists study the ecosystems that inspire chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard’s menu. “It’s trying to promote sea life deep in the fjord,” says Craig Dykers, founding partner of Snøhetta, the Norwegian-American architecture firm that designed the unprecedented project, which served its first meals on March 20. The building’s shell, which was built offshore on a barge, submerged, and then bolted to the seafloor, is covered in a rough concrete that gives marine creatures a place to build their habitats. “Normally, artificial reefs are built underwater far from where you can see, but in this case, human and reef life are interacting,” the architect explains. Diners can watch from inside the wood-and-concrete dining room, bathed in the blue-green light of the fjord from which their meal came. As Dykers puts it, “It’s a larger idea than making a restaurant, and we think that’s very important.”
A version of this article appeared in the October 2019 issue of Fast Company magazine.