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
– Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Snøhetta founding partner
International architects Snøhetta have unveiled a concept design for the Arctic circle's first ever energy-positive hotel.
Situated at the foot of the Svartisen glacier that runs through Meløy, northern Norway, the project, called Svart, will consume around 85 per cent less energy than a modern Norwegian hotel, and produce its own power.
The design has been developed by Snøhetta in collaboration with sustainable tourism agency Arctic Adventure of Norway; engineering firm Asplan Viak; construction company Skanska; and developer Entra. Together, they have worked with the ZERO Emission Resource Organization to create the ‘Powerhouse’ standard.
The consortium has built several ‘plus’ houses and a school that meet the Powerhouse targets. In the course of a 60 year period, these buildings will generate more renewable energy than the total amount of energy required to sustain daily operations and to build, produce materials and demolish the building.
Svart is the first Powerhouse hotel, and the northernmost Powerhouse site. Meløy experiences the midnight sun in summer and polar nights in winter, illuminated by the Northern Lights.
The hotel's design has been informed by extensive mapping of how solar radiation behaves in relation to mountainous context throughout the year. To optimise the harvest of energy, the roof will be clad with solar panels – themselves produced using clean hydro energy. The building will have a circular form that strategically places the hotel rooms, restaurants and public amenities where the Sun’s energy can be best exploited throughout the day and the changing seasons.
According to a design statement: “The building’s facades will protect against insolation from the sun in the summer when the sun is high in the sky, removing the need for artificial cooling. During the winter months, when the sun is low in the sky, the large windows of the façade allow for a maximum of insolation to exploit the Sun’s natural thermal energy. Meanwhile, secluded terraces will provide a shadow play in the façade of the hotel.”
Materials with low embodied energy, such as timber, will be used to reach the Powerhouse standard. Typically energy-intensive materials, such as structural steel and concrete, will be avoided as much as possible.
“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,” said Snøhetta founding partner Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.
“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.”
The name Svart means ‘blue’ in Old Norse "black" in Norwegian and is a reference to the deep blue ice of Svartisen and its natural surroundings.