Inside Svart: the first ever energy-postive hotel

It looks like a spaceship on stilts but it’s the world’s first ‘energy positive’ hotel set to be built at the base of the Almlifjellet mountain within the Arctic Circle.

The hotel, Svart (which means ‘black’ in Norwegian to reflect the deep-blue ice of the glaciers), was designed by SnØhetta, an Oslo-based firm of architects who shot to renown after their 1989 remodelling of the great Alexandria Library in Egypt. The firm was inspired by the fiskehjell – an A-shaped wooden structure used by fishermen in Norway to dry fish. The stilts, in turn, are a tribute to rorbuer, which are traditional fishermen’s houses extended on poles.

Suspending the circular hotel above the water on V-shaped stilts will reduce its environmental impact, so the area’s rare plant species and the blue ice of the Svartisen glaciers remain protected. What makes it a ‘powerhouse’ is the fact that it’s designed to produce more energy than it will consume, while running on renewable sources like wind, sun and water.

As SnØhetta says on their website, ‘To reach the Powerhouse standard, several cutting-edge design choices have been made. For example, the architects have conducted an extensive mapping of how solar radiation behaves in relation to mountainous context throughout the year to optimize the harvest of energy. The result of the study has been an importance premise for the circular design of the hotel, and both hotel rooms, restaurants and terraces are strategically placed to exploit the Sun’s energy throughout the day and seasons. The hotel’s roof is clad with Norwegian solar panels produced with clean hydro energy reducing the carbon footprint even further. Due to the long summer nights of this area, the annual production of solar energy will be significant.’

Its distinctive shape means 360˚ views of the surrounding fjords and offers a unique location for watching the aurora borealis – definitely one for the bucket list of the planet-conscious travel set.

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