the data center

Maximilian Gömann
2022/23 Hamburg

Data centers are buildings in which mainframe computers and their associated infrastructure are housed. Concentrating data in centers has been around since they were digitally recorded. The first tube-based mainframe computers were built in the 1950s, after tube-based computers for military use were developed as early as the 1940s.With the digital revolution and the increasing mass spread of computers from the late 1970s, the amount of data to be managed increased rapidly. The real boom in data centers came about during the so-called dot-com bubble between 1997 and 2000. In a gigantic upheaval process, the world of work was completely digitized with the exorbitant increase in data volumes and the need to manage them accordingly. The energy demand associated with this development and which is still increasing rapidly, primarily affects the servers themselves and the associated cooling systems.
 It becomes clear that although we have fully arrived in virtual reality, we are hardly aware of its physical effects. As our end devices continue to get smaller and lighter, the data center, as a new, largely unknown architecture, is becoming increasingly larger and larger. We know little about their location, organization and processes. 

The task should therefore be to consciously deal with this topic on the basis of a new data center to be designed and a thorough analysis of a reference project. This is about the house of digital natural sciences, which, in addition to the actual data center, has a supporting function for the use of innovative digital technology for the university. Universität Hamburg is developing the large new campus Science City Bahrenfeld. The Developments are at the stage of creating programs, so the university has a real interest in exchange and input through student designs right now. In addition to the campus as a whole, concrete tasks are being developed for certain buildings. The processing of a data center requires an intensive examination of the corresponding references. Its architecture also addresses the aforementioned uncertainty of future use. Robust basic structures as well as interior transformation possibilities are aspects that contemporary proposals for the apparently historical typology must take into account. 

The project deals with the typological analysis and design of a data center in the urban and university context of the new Science City in Hamburg Bahrenfeld. This project is based on the assumption that a data center has very simple ambitions and wants to be a house of logistics in which the server racks are treated almost like furniture. 
The surface structure with the hollow floors, the external vertical access and sanitary cores and the enormous storey height create a certain hyper-flexibility, which allows generic requirements of many types of use. The concept is completed with a swimming pool on the roof, which can be an answer to the enormous waste heat from the numerous server racks.