Under is Europe’s first underwater restaurant and a new landmark for Southern Norway. This spectacular building, designed by world renowned Snøhetta, with its rough concrete structure makes it easy for mussels to cling to its surface – acting as an artificial reef, whilst unique lighting scenarios attracts marine life which helps naturally rinse the sea water and increase biodiversity.

With a natural reference to the theme of the restaurant, the interior lighting floats like waves into the room where it is needed – a unique feature of the concept Liquid Light®. Sensors are used to detect movement throughout the space and the lighting is programmed to react accordingly. The sources of light are small LEDs with good glare control placed in a matrix in the ceiling, which makes them almost invisible.

More than 400 ceiling-mounted LED lights are carefully positioned with vertical output in a grid formation. They can be grouped to create various lighting scenarios or be individually controlled to adapt and adjust the lighting and levels to a specific area, e.g. over the tables when night falls, which saves energy, whilst adding light where and when it is needed.

The lighting is equally designed to enhance the magnificent architecture and help people feel secure even when sitting below sea level. Because of the minimal amounts of daylight on the seabed 5 meters below the surface, it was crucial to maintain a sense of natural light to create a safe and inviting environment for the visitors and staff.

During opening hours in the evening, the exterior lighting is designed to ensure a clear visibility of about 30-40 meters from the massive window in the restaurant. The installation consists of luminaires with different color temperatures and RGB luminaires. Coloured light was a crucial factor for optimizing visibility, especially due to large amounts of seasonal plankton. By adjusting the colour spectrum of the emitted light, it is possible to minimize the light reflected from the plankton and avoid visual disturbances at night.

The restaurant is planned to function both as a culinary experience in spectacular surroundings and as a research centre for marine life. Before embarking on the project, ÅF Lighting, Marine Biologists and Snøhetta carried out extensive research into the human impacts on marine life and the effects artificial lighting and architectural creations would have on it. A main goal was to attract various species and make them visible from inside the restaurant for the guests to see, without harming the natural environment.

Under’s implicit harmony with its surrounding milieu is part of its beauty, where every element of the design is carefully considered, layered, and seamlessly incorporated. The lighting design is no exception. It has been fundamental that the lighting scheme should meet the practical requirements of a naturally dark environment, whilst protecting local wildlife without jeopardizing the architectural look and feel of the restaurant.