Happy weekend to you. It`s early Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in my home office, waiting for the sky to clear up so I can work a bit in the garden. Our Sansevieria plant needs repotting. She is growing very fast and has babies all the time. When the weather is not so inviting for a hike or a bike trip, I still like to stick my nose out and do something in the garden. There is a bush to cut and partly moved and a fern to be removed or reduced in size.
This season we have only had a little bit of sunshine so far. It was nice, soft, with bearable temperatures (which I prefer), but incredibly short. Now the highest temperature in daytime is around seventeen and the minimums crawl back down to eleven. That’s okay, we are in Norway.
Nevertheless, this kind of weather can be very inspiring and the perfect backdrop, like this last Friday, when our team at the office have been treated to a design study awayday to a very special place in the southernmost area of Norway, just a few miles from the stunning Lindesnes lighthouse.
This special place is the relatively new Under restaurant in Båly. Unlike for some of us, it was completely new to me and knowing that we were about to see the place soon, I deliberately didn’t want to google it before the big day. I love to be surprised every now and then.
Well, it really is a surprising location, yet not very surprising for me, in a good sense. I don’t know what the public resembles it to generally, but I think it looks like a World War II bunker, halfway sunk at the rough and rocky shoreline of the Skagerrak Sea. There is a large number of war bunkers along the southern coastline of Norway and around Jylland in Denmark, revealing to the visitor fragments of what happened in the area about eighty years ago. Luckily I had the chance to visit some of them in both countries. They truly have a special atmosphere, therefore I was so excited to have a closer look at this very evocative building designed by the famous Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta. I wish I had the time to write more about their fascinating projects, but definitely check out this one.
What they did, is they built the thick concrete structure on a barge, transported it to the location, then carefully sank it.
Danish kitchen chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard – who was kind enough to show us around, explained how the building was put together to achieve a perfect acoustics and sound insulation when visiting and also to make the entire structure withstand the underwater pressure and the rough environment the building was planned to be built into.
Being lucky enough to meet the head chef, we were very inquisitive about the food. They work predominantly with locally sourced ingredients, I mean literally locally sourced, because after the visit, I googled Under, to chance upon a video in which our head chef, in full special gear, is outside the building, busy collecting all sorts of living treasures from the sea to create his wonderful dishes that look like objects d’art. In addition, they have a contract with a local fishing boat, so everything they serve is absolutely fresh, moreover, they have a continually rotating live stock in the restaurant as well.
Nicolai works with an international team, whose members come from all corners of the world, to add a special cultural flavour to the carefully orchestrated list of culinary wonders. The menu is subject to constant change, it always depends on what Mother Nature is giving them and some dishes are being designed for as long as weeks to reach the desired consistence and look.
Captain Nemo would be jealous to discover how the space is designed and insulated. What impressed me most is the angles, the geometry of the space. At first glance you would say it is such a simple construction. But it is not. I love the way all those angles, textures, materials meet on almost every square meter. There is something to discover all over the place: the beautiful oak wall cladding comes from local forests and the multicolored textile used on the ceiling and side walls was the “artwork” of the renowned Danish textile firm Kvadrat. It’s called Kvadrat Soft Cells and it was designed and created especially for this project – check out this second video for even more details. The fabric is woven from different colours, inspired by the wonders of underwater life and it is manufactured with a special technique to provide sound insulation for the interior. When you descend to the dining space in the restaurant, you have the sensation that you are in the water, wanting to reach out and touch the colourful swaying plants.
I could go on for much longer about the details, instead, let the pictures speak for me.
Photography: Andrea Rebendics
See you soon.