Snøhetta’s last marvel

Only reachable from the sea, Svart is the most environmentally friendly hotel in the world

North of Norway in the Arctic Circle, at the base of the Svartisen glacier, with one foot on the earth and one in the water, Snøhetta architecture studio has produced its latest design miracle. The Svart hotel is, in fact, the first hotel to be built in a Nordic climate in line with the Powerhouse energy standard. This means that the building consumes 85% less compared with similar structures, and produces its own energy thanks to geothermal wells that are connected to heat pumps. What’s more, the project was created using materials with low embodied energy (wood, predominantly), that is, materials which require less energy to be produced, transported, constructed and, eventually, substituted.

Just as much attention has been paid to the aesthetic aspect of the building. Its circular shape which lies at the edge of the sea was conceived to maximise the sunlight during the very long polar summers and also to capture it during the long winters. Wooden pillars (energy-intensive materials such as structural steel and concrete were avoided) support the structure, creating a suspended jetty underneath which is useful for summer strolls or for storing canoes and small boats in winter. It also reduces the amount of space used for storage and warehouses. The hotel is only accessible by water and they are thinking of introducing an energy-neutral sea crossing so as to complete a project which, as always with Snøhetta, is an incomparable mix of sustainability and beauty.

Valentina Monti