The arctic circle is regarded as one of the most beautiful and pristine regions on the planet, with its dazzling northern lights, glaciers, and cozy lodges. When we think of them, we wish that no one should harm the environment by undertaking “construction” there. We’ve all witnessed how our cities have devolved into concrete jungles that, although beautiful, are not sustainable. So, developing in areas that have succeeded in being sustainable is a big challenge that even the greatest would avoid.
Snøhetta, a Norwegian firm that has grown internationally and is known for its unique designs set in stunning surroundings, accepted the challenge. They developed “Svart,” an ambitious proposal to be the first powerhouse hotel, at the foot of the Svatisen glacier (the second biggest in northern Norway) in collaboration with Arctic Adventures of Norway, Asplan Viak, and Skanska. The project had several obstacles and was even terminated once, but Six Senses Hotels & Resorts, a worldwide hospitality group, took over to operate and develop the hotel. It will now be open to the public in 2024.
The hotel’s name, Svart, means “black” and refers to the midnight blue ice of the Svartisen glacier, giving homage to its surroundings. The primary concepts around which the hotel is built are:
- Location preservation
- Technology in establishing an off-grid solution
- A sustainable operating approach to guests
The first sustainable custom resort desires to become the future of hotels by elucidating travelers to care for the conservation of nature.
Snøhetta’s futuristic style for the building is influenced by vernacular architecture, namely an A-shaped wooden structure for drying fish and an anglers’ traditional type of summer house. Inspired by Norway’s traditional practices and fishing heritage, this 94-room hotel was designed to provide visitors with a premium and immersive experience while remaining carbon neutral.
The round ring structure gives a panoramic view of the sea and glacier, creating a sensation of being close to nature. Its primary structural materials are glass and thin wooden poles, giving the structure a light transparent appearance against a rich backdrop. The hotel was built to blur the line between land and water, leaving a small footprint and avoiding seabed destruction. The building is lifted above the sea, and paddlers may paddle beneath it, comparable to the scenic walkway in the underbelly. The V-shaped poles store boats and kayaks in the winter, avoiding the need for additional deck space.
World’s first Energy-positive Hotel
The building boots of being the first one to achieve the rigorous powerhouse standards of sustainability, i.e., in 60 years, the building would generate more renewable energy than required to sustain operations, build the building and even demolish it. Svart hotel is set to become completely off-grid in the first five years by planning to harvest solar energy from panels on the roof.
Snøhetta conceptualized this masterpiece to make the hotel, boat shuttles, and other experiences self-sufficient in terms of electricity, water, and waste management. The team is also set to work on developing sustainable fishing and farming options, engaging like-minded suppliers for the restaurants and bars. The hotel’s marketing on ecotourism shows that developing at such eco-sensitive sites is achievable and profitable.
To achieve the powerhouse standard, the architects conducted mapping of solar radiation to optimize energy generation via the solar panels on the roof. Insulating facades are installed, as the sun is high in summers and leads to a lot of solar heat gain. Materials with low embodied energy are used for the construction.
Awareness and Wellness
The hotel offers luxury like many others, but apart from its location, it has some more unique and immersive in-store experiences for anyone staying here. Entering the experience center, one can feel the light and raw textures of the materials. The Alchemy Bar will host a platform to show rich healing techniques from plants in age-old Norwegian practices. A spa, health, and wellness clinic is set up to assist guests reconnecting with nature or receiving expert health treatments upon arrival.
Snøhetta not just designed the hotel but also helped create a unique identity for the Svart. Being ambitious in the present and the future, the hotel is set to have a Design Lab to function as a place for innovation and education, educating guests to reach the goal of carbon neutrality. Not just these, even the food storage, preparation, and serving are considered for zero waste; how that will be achieved is yet to be known. Extending the visitor to all these practicalities, the hotel ultimately wishes to show how collectively we can build a better sustainable and healthier environment for future generations.
Placed at a sensitive yet simulation location, the hotel is adaptive to different times and extreme seasons, offering its visitors different experiences. Snøhetta has managed to turn this challenge into a real opportunity for Six senses and the visitors.
This all-year-round stay offers adventures like glacier climbing and a view of the northern lights in the winter, while sailing, fishing, and hiking are available for those who wish to visit the summers in the northern end. The creative yet sustainable design, use of technology, and futuristic outlook have ensured that this extraordinary hotel makes it to many must-visit and ideal vacation lists even before it opens.
- Snohetta.com. 2019. Svart. [online] Available at: <https://snohetta.com/project/366-svart>
- Svart. 2020. SVART. [online] Available at: <https://www.svart.no/>