The 2016 Skyscraper Competition sponsored by eVolo
, an architecture and design journal pushing technological advances in building design, resulted in some unique designs that have a lot of people thinking. A case in point is a data centre tower design submitted by an Italian architectural team with an eye on Iceland. The duo insists that Iceland is the perfect place to establish a new, technologically-advanced data centre for a world with an insatiable appetite for data.
According to Valeria Mercuri and Marco Merletti's submission to eVolo
, their design calls for the construction of a tall, cylindrical tower with empty space in the interior. On the exterior would be mounted modular pods housing various data servers and peripheral equipment. Built into the foundation of the tower would be administrative offices and maintenance and lab space for technicians.
Technicians could access pods from the interior space, pulling them into the tower and lowering them to the lab below in order to work on them. Otherwise, the interior space would act as a chimney to help vent the equipment year-round. Fans could draw outside air through the pods, sending the heat into the chimney to be dispersed or recaptured for other purposes. Although futuristic in its visual presentation, the idea is based on some sound, fundamental principles of engineering. It certainly gives new meaning to cloud computing!
Iceland Is the Perfect Environment
Mercuri and Merletti chose Iceland as the theoretical location for their data centre skyscraper for three reasons:
Firstly, Iceland's geographic location between Europe and North America would make it the ideal place to host data and applications belonging to companies on both continents. A centrally-located data centre would speed up data transfer times and make it possible to store huge volumes of data in a place that is easily accessible from both sides of the Atlantic.
Secondly, the architects insist that Iceland already has the capacity to provide 100% renewable energy to power their data centre tower. Between geothermal and hydro-power, they say the data centre would have no need for fossil fuel energy or a municipal grid hook-up.
Finally, Iceland's location relative to the Arctic Circle means there is an ample supply of cool air that could be used to provide natural cooling for the tower, further reducing its need for costly energy. The average high in Iceland is just 7°C while the average low is just under 2°C. Provided designers could properly regulate moisture in the air, using cool external air to maintain safe equipment temperatures seems ideal. In the winter, any excess heat drawn off servers could be harnessed for municipal heat.
Whether the Mercuri and Merletti proposal ever sees the light of day remains to be seen. But it is an intriguing design. Not only would construction of numerous towers lead to new data centre jobs in Icelandic cities, but they could also pave the way to a new method of storing data while using less energy.
· Iceland Monitor – http://icelandmonitor.mbl.is/news/news/2016/03/31/new_design_for_iceland_data_centre_skyscraper/
· eVolo – http://www.evolo.us/competition/data-skyscraper-sustainable-data-center-in-iceland/