Few data centers are meant to be seen, let alone artfully photographed. But that's changing, as the many series of data space-themed photographs can attest. As these structures--usually no more than warehouses, yet animated by complex, even mystifying webs of cables--are increasingly exposed and presented for public consumption, they become cultural objects in their own right. In light of this development, both the multinational companies and architects behind these data centers are taking the initiative in opening up aspects of the architecture that were once kept in the dark.
Take Google. (Side note: we've just added Creative Director Aaron Koblin to the awesome A+ Awards jury!) The search engine giant has just unveiled a new site that explores eight of the company's nine global data centers (four more are under construction). On average, 3 billion searches zip through these structures on a daily basis, while the machinery they contain process 72 hours of Youtube video every minute. Where the Internet Lives pulls back the curtain from Google's operations and the network of infrastructure that holds it all together.
Interestingly, the photographs reveal how each of the centers maintains a unique identity of their own. The Dalles, Oregon facility sports a colorful piping system that fundamentally alters the interiors, electrifying an admittedly stale visual sequences of steel supports. The Hamina, Finland outpost is housed in an Alvar Aalto-designed warehouse, whose timber frame offices are miles apart from the high-tech, inadvertently poetic spaces that populate the complexes in Lenoir, North Carolina or Mayes County, Oklahoma.
Google says that their data centers are the most energy efficient currently in operation. The Hamina structure, for example, pumps sea water from the nearby Bay of Finland to cool the endless honeycomb shelves of processors inside. Together with the other facilities, they use approximately half the energy that's the typology standard--impressive when considering that they service over a billion users throughout the world.
All images, courtesy Google