For this edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Irish Pavilion focuses on data technologies and their presence within the physical landscape, exploring the cultural end environmental implications of data production and consumption. Titled Entanglement and curated by the multidisciplinary research and design collective ANNEX, the exhibition challenges the presumed immateriality of the Cloud, highlighting the infrastructure of data production and its impact on everyday life while also examining Ireland’s role in the evolution of global communication.
Data Center: The Latest Architecture and News
The Irish Pavilion for the 2021 Venice Biennale Explores the Impact of Data Production on Everyday Life
Mecanoo has unveiled their design for the Qianhai Data Center in Shenzhen, China, from which they received second prize in an international design competition. The 63,000-square-meter scheme, imagined as an urban beacon, consists of an opaque tower atop an open plinth with offices and support spaces.
The 113-meter-tall “digital lighthouse” is to be located within the 15-square-kilometer Qianhai Free Development Zone, where it will mark the arrival to the district and symbolize its innovative ambition.
Snøhetta has released images of its proposed sustainable data center concept, named “The Spark.” The project seeks to address the typical high-energy-consuming typology of the data center, transforming it into an “energy-producing resource for communities to generate their own power.”
The proposal is adaptable for a wide range of contexts and can be scaled for any location around the world, fueling connected cities with energy from the center’s excess heat.
Plans have been revealed by American-Norwegian data company Kolos to construct the world's largest data center, a claim based on the amount of electrical power the site intends to draw from the grid to supply its banks of servers and cooling facilities. Located on a fjord in Ballangen, Norway, the proposed site sits within the Arctic Circle and would take advantage of the cold climate, low humidity, and the abundant supply of hydropower currently available in the area.
From giant squids to sunken treasure, the ocean has a way of hiding secrets better than any other place on Earth – so why not hide your personal information down there too?
That scenario may soon be our reality, as Microsoft has unveiled that, for the past year and a half, they have been testing a prototype data center that is completely submerged underwater. Devised by Microsoft engineer Sean James, the theory argues that placing the massive server farms underwater could dramatically reduce both construction and cooling costs, as well as provide a reliable source of renewable energy and even improve their performance.
Have you ever wondered where your information goes when you save it to "The Cloud"? The answer is within giant data centers. According to reports, Facebook and Google's data centers resemble something from Science Fiction, while some could come straight from a Bond flick. In a new short film named Internet Machine, Filmmaker and Visual artist Timo Arnall takes us where few have been granted access, showing the world what "The Cloud" really is - a massive architectural space with extreme energy demands. To experience the power surging and hear the deafening hum of a data center, check out the trailer above.
The bank architect’s goal is to create a secure edifice. The bank robber’s? To subvert the edifice. And yet consider their commonality: their interaction with space. Both analyze plans and consider inefficiencies, both inhabit the space much differently than your average spectator. In fact, the Robber’s relationship with space is far more physical, urgent…nuanced. As Mehruss Ahi, a recent graduate from Woodbury University, puts it in his senior thesis: “The Architect is the Bank Robber…and the Bank Robber is the Architect.”
Ahi suggests a Robber-like “spatial hack” of the bank: an identification of its inefficiencies/vulnerabilities/paths of circulation. He also notes the necessity of giving priority to large storage space for goods rather than money (due to “the migration of banking services to the Web”). This new perspective, Ahi argues, will allow architects to design a smarter, more secure bank. The bank of the future.
Ahi’s assertion about the need for physical storage space (as banks turn to the Web), got me thinking. Our world depends less and less on physical storage, and more and more on the bits of information flying through the wires and cables of the internet. Ahi’s theory, while an interesting insight into bank design, is even more powerful when applied to the bank’s modern day equivalent: the Data Center.