Story at a glance

  • Snøhetta’s Svart aims to be the first energy-positive “Powerhouse” hotel with an array of sustainable features that coincide with and amplify the natural beauty of Norway.
  • At the base of Svartisen glacier, the hotel employs innovative ring-shaped design and construction techniques that recall local vernacular architecture.

In the Northern reaches of Norway at the base of Svartisen glacier, Snøhetta, in collaboration with Arctic Adventure of Norway, Asplan Viak, and Skanska, has designed Svart—a stunning, energy-positive green hotel.

Upon completion, Svart will be the first hotel to earn Norway’s “Powerhouse” certification by generating more energy than it consumes, starting with material sourcing and construction and continuing through the end of the structure’s lifetime.

Svart intends to reduce yearly energy consumption by 85% compared to other Norwegian hotels, and within five years of its opening will operate using only its own electricity and waste management systems.

The ring shape of the hotel and careful designation of indoor spaces, determined by the location’s drastic seasonal solar changes, maximize the efficacy of the Norway-made solar panels on the roof. Terraces on the facade yield shade in the summer while maximizing insolation in the winter. Geothermal wells provide additional heating.

The design employs materials with incredibly low embodied energy, made and transported using energy-efficient technologies. Once guests book their stays, they too will arrive via sustainable methods: an energy-neutral boat shuttle will bring visitors from the nearby city of Bodø.

In homage to the dark blue ice of its neighboring glacier, the hotel is named “Svart,” Norwegian for “black.” Anchoring the hotel over the fjord below and amplifying the design’s relationship to its setting and history through local vernacular architecture, structural support poles hold the hotel above the water, recalling the rorbue, a traditional Norwegian fishermen’s house, as well as the “fiskehjell,” an A-shaped wooden structure for drying fish.

A boardwalk among the structural poles offers guests a place to stroll or ride bikes in the summer and doubles as boat storage in the winter. The boardwalk is high enough above the glacial lake that visitors can easily paddle underneath the hotel’s body and into every part of the fjord, and gives the structure a degree of transparency among its surroundings.

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Rendering courtesy of Snøhetta

The design’s ability to reflect and augment the landscape, together with its unobtrusive footprint, feel at home beneath the Northern lights and among the icy features it hopes to preserve. Snøhetta unveiled the design in 2018, and the project is ongoing.