Snøhetta has unveiled plans for the world's first energy positive hotel in northern Norway. Dubbed "Svart," the new hotel will be the first of its kind to be built in accordance with the "Powerhouse" standards and is expected to generate its own power while reducing its annual energy consumption by 85 percent compared to a modern hotel.

The "Powerhouse" is a collaboration between Snøhetta; Entra, a Norwegian real estate company; Skanska, a Stockholm-based construction company; Zero Emission Resource Organization, an Oslo, Norway–based environmental organization; and Asplan Viak, a Norwegian consultancy company. "The term 'Powerhouse' is used to describe so-called 'plus house' buildings that are built by the Powerhouse collaboration," according to a press release. “Plus houses are energy producing buildings that, in the course of a 60-year period, will generate more renewable energy than the total amount of energy that would be required to sustain daily operations and to build, produce materials, and demolish the building."

To achieve the "Powerhouse" standards, Snøhetta has made several design decisions. The firm has used mapping technique to determine the solar radiation behavior in relation to the hotel's natural context. This inspired the hotel's circular design, which will utilize the sun’s energy at all times. The hotel's façade features secluded balconies to eliminate the need for artificial cooling in summers and large windows to exploit light in winters. Additionally, the hotel's roof will be clad in sustainable solar panels, according to the same release.

The hotel's design will also utilize geothermal wells that will be connected to a series of heat pumps—a system designed for heating buildings by using the Earth's natural heat which also helps to lower the overall energy consumption. Low-embodied-energy building materials (that require less energy to manufacture, transfer, and build) such as wood will be widely used throughout the building and where possible, the use of steel and concrete will be avoided.


Inspired by the region's vernacular architecture, the new hotel's design is reminiscent of traditional fisherman's seasonal houses (rorbue) and A-shaped wooden structures used for dehydrating fish (fiskehjell). The circular hotel will sit on a series of weather-resistant wooden poles that stretch from the shoreline into the Holandsfjorden fjord and offer an unobstructed view of the landscape. "The poles ensure that the building physically places a minimal footprint in the pristine nature and gives the building an almost transparent appearance," says the release. In summers, a wooden walkway, beneath the hotel rooms, can be used as a passageway and in winters, it can function as boats' and kayaks' storage space.

"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," said the firm's founding partner Kjetil Trædal Thorsen in the release. "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."

"Svart" is a collaboration between Snøhetta, Arctic Adventure of Norway, Asplan Viak, and Skanska, and is expected to open in 2021.