Breath-taking glacier views are just one part of the Svart hotel being constructed in Norway, just above the Arctic Circle. Svart has been planned as the world’s first energy-positive off-grid holiday destination to be built to the highest energy efficiency standards in the northern hemisphere – the Powerhouse standard.

Located at the foot of the Svartisen glacier that runs through the Meløy municipality in northern Norway, Svart has been conceptualised on four major pillars – environment, nature, sustainability and technology innovation. The hotel’s design by leading Norwegian architecture studio Snøhetta for Arctic Adventures of Norway, a subsidiary of MIRIS Eiendom, is based on local coastal building traditions and nature, dissolving the boundary between land and water.

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site. It was important for us to design a sustainable building that will leave a minimal environmental footprint on this beautiful Northern nature.

Building an energy positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features of the plot – the rare plant species, the clean waters and the blue ice of the Svartisen glacier,” Snøhetta founding partner Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explained.

The hotel, which will have about 100 rooms, is expected to save 85 per cent of its annual energy consumption and harvest enough solar energy to cover both the hotel operations and the energy needed to construct the building. The goal is to enable full off-grid operation within five years of the hotel’s opening. This means that the hotel and its adjacent services, including the sustainable greenhouse farm, which will produce ingredients for the hotel’s restaurants, as well as boat shuttles and experiences, will be completely self-sufficient in electricity, water and waste management.

Featuring a circular design, the hotel extends from the shoreline by the foot of the Almlifjellet mountain and into the clear waters of the Holandsfjorden fjord. According to the architects, the circular shape provides a panoramic view of the fjord and an experience of living in proximity with nature. The circular form also maximises the building’s ability to collect solar energy from the roof, which is sloped and angled.

Svart’s design takes inspiration from local vernacular architecture in the form of the ‘fiskehjell’, an A-shaped wooden structure for drying fish, and the ‘rorbue’, a traditional type of seasonal house used by fishermen – the latter referring to the hotel’s supporting structure, which is built from weather-resistant wooden poles stretching several metres below the fjord’s surface. The poles ensure that the building minimises its physical footprint in the pristine nature, giving it an almost transparent appearance, the architects said.

To further minimise environmental impact, the use of concrete, steel and aluminium has been consciously reduced in favour of locally sourced stone, wood and glass.

Images: © Snøhetta