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A giant data centre in Rotterdam city centre. Just one building respects it for what it is.
A giant data centre in Rotterdam city centre. Just one building respects it for what it is.

The ground floor contains everything needed to keep the data centre running 24/7. Everything is there except an entrance to the building.
The ground floor contains everything needed to keep the data centre running 24/7. Everything is there except an entrance to the building.

Below the data centre, a house clings to the gigantic block. This is where the caretaker lives.
Below the data centre, a house clings to the gigantic block. This is where the caretaker lives.

Een dun laagje goud beschermt de gevoelige high-techapparatuur binnenin het datacenter.
Een dun laagje goud beschermt de gevoelige high-techapparatuur binnenin het datacenter.

A bare patch on the wall marks the place where the postman used to lean his bike. Some strips of stone have been kicked away from the wall by an irate passer-by. The wind collects litter in the corner.
A bare patch on the wall marks the place where the postman used to lean his bike. Some strips of stone have been kicked away from the wall by an irate passer-by. The wind collects litter in the corner.

Indoors, a wood stove blazes in the living room. A dark passage is the caretaker’s only direct access to the data centre.
Indoors, a wood stove blazes in the living room. A dark passage is the caretaker’s only direct access to the data centre.

The wind plays with the curtains.
The wind plays with the curtains.

And at breakfast I stare at the glass with a captured wasp in it as I calmly eat on. Leaving the table with a sigh, I begin my rounds.
And at breakfast I stare at the glass with a captured wasp in it as I calmly eat on. Leaving the table with a sigh, I begin my rounds.




PROJECTINDEX
 
IN IMITATION OF THE PRECEDING
Rotterdamse Academie van Bouwkunst
ARCHITECTURE

A forbidding gold-coloured data centre and a small run-down building housing the caretaker share a site in the heart of Rotterdam. Together they confront us with the human condition of our time: an existence between the virtual and the sensorial, the all-inclusive and the personal, the managed and the accidental.
The new data centre is a block 168 metres long, 65 metres wide and 130 metres high. The volume complies exactly with the sunlighting rules as laid out in the zoning plan. There are 32 storeys that fill the volume, each divided into four fire prevention compartments no bigger than 2500 square metres and containing the rows of server cabinets. The fibreglass cables enter the building on the ground floor, which houses the dispatch bay, the transformer vault and the storerooms. In the event of a power cut, 14 diesel generators take over the power supply. This guarantees that the data centre is operational 24/7. A shaft passing diagonally through the building brings in rainwater to be collected in a reservoir. This water keeps the data centre cool at the required 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. The aluminium frontage has a gold leaf cladding, which protects the building against unwanted signals, lightning and other weather conditions such as rain, snow and ice.

This morning the sun shines through the shaft above his yard. A golden glow now fills the caretaker’s kitchen. The white stone strips in the frontage have since dried but the rain has left grey streaks. In the living room he hears a large drip fall from the eaves into the metal roof gutter. He opens the window and just then a stone strip falls from the outer wall to the ground, revealing the bare patch of the aluminium sheeting behind. He stares at the stone but does nothing about it. It’s happened so often. His home is starting to show more and more bare patches. The bitumen roofing has come away from the roof and the strips of stone from where the postman used to lean his bike are gone too. Time, the elements and use have all left their marks on the lodge. The caretaker looks at the clock on the wall. He sighs and gets up from his chair. It is time to make his rounds. He makes his way through the dark, dank corridor with its strong smell of mould and decay. He puts his shoulder against the door and with his full weight pushes it open. The strip lights flash on and he disappears into the chilly glare of the data centre.