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Europe's First Underwater Restaurant Opens in Norway
Europe's first underwater restaurant opened in Norway on March 20 with more than 7,000 customers booked in to eat among the fish. Situated on the southern tip of Norway, the restaurant looks like a large concrete tube partly submerged in the North Sea. It is called Under, which also means "wonder" in Norwegian. It was designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snoehetta, which also created the Opera house in Oslo and the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York. Entering Under initially feels like going into a sauna, as wooden planks cover its upper section, but an eight-meter flight of stairs leads down to a large dining area that sits about 40 guests, walled by a gigantic transparent window to the ocean. Snoehetta's founder Kjetil Traedal Thorsen said the construction can cope with very harsh weather and is shaped in such a way that it can withstand what he called "the wave of the century". The restaurant is laid out so there are minimal reflections in the glass wall, which fills the room with natural light during the day, filtered by the greenish color of the water. Restaurants culinary focus is high-quality food that's sourced locally. The head chef is Danish expatriate Nicolai Ellitsgaard from acclaimed restaurant Måltid in Kristiansand and he brings along an international, 16-person kitchen team with experience from top Michelin restaurants. A full 18-course meal, based on local ingredients and seafood, can cost up to $430 per person including drinks. Under opens on Wednesday for friends and family of the owners and the first paying guests will be able to visit from early April. There are only a handful of underwater restaurants around the world, mainly found in tropical waters like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Research Center for Marine Life The restaurant also functions as a research center for marine life and provides a tribute to the creatures of the sea, according to Snohetta. "The structure is designed to fully integrate into its marine environment over time, as the roughness of the concrete shell will function as an artificial reef, welcoming limpets and kelp to inhabit it," Snohetta on its website. "With the thick concrete walls lying against the craggy shoreline, the structure is built to withstand pressure and shock from the rugged sea conditions. Like a sunken periscope, the restaurant’s massive window offers a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons and varying weather conditions," it said. The cameras placed on and outside the facade of the restaurant will help a research team to study marine biology and fish behavior. They plan to document the population, behavior, and diversity of species that are living around the restaurant. "The goal of the research is to collect data that can be programmed into machine learning tools that monitor the population dynamics of key marine species on a regular basis, thereby creating new opportunities to improve official marine resource management," Snohetta said. The Epoch Times reporter Venus Upadhayaya contributed to this report.