Data centers are a fundamental component of today’s political, cultural and socio-economic landscapes. A new form of architecture for data and machines – one almost liberated from human intervention and entirely shaped by technological rationales – data centers are the testing ground of alternative models for post-human institutions. From the new spatial and material conditions that data centers bring together, to the network infrastructures that enable them, to the residual cohabitation of humans and non-humans, these apparently anonymous architectures are mobilised as emerging urban prototypes.
In the period of October 24-26, Het Nieuwe Instituut will organise a series of activities in the Netherlands, comprising of field trips to data centers and and submarine cable landing points. Together with critics, technologists and architects, including Mike Klerks (Mike Klerks Architecten), Niels Hensen (ITB Kwadraat), Richard Boogaard (Smart DC), Peter de Jong (Bytesnet), and Roel Roscam Abbing (Varia), we will gain insight into the design and spatial configuration of these locations.
The Netherlands is the second largest data hub in Europe, with a quarter of its GDP dependent on the data center industry. Accommodation of the main submarine cable landing points and core data distribution nodes, as well as access to renewable energy and a cool climate, have attracted numerous international companies to locate data centers and headquarters within Dutch borders. Through the analysis of a selection of present-day case studies in the Netherlands, the project will address different manifestations of the emerging typology in both urban and rural environments.
This event is a part of Automated Landscapes, a long-term collaborative research initiative on the implications of automation for the built environment, launched in 2017 by Het Nieuwe Instituut, directed by its Research Department, and presented in the exhibition WORK, BODY, LEISURE in the Dutch pavilion at at the Biennale Architettura 2018. The project addresses the contemporary emergence of distinct types of spatial configurations and conditions engendered and afforded by automation.
The first phase of the research on data centers will be developed by RCA students and the faculty, within the framework of the architectural design studio ADS8: Data Matter: Digital Networks, Data Centers & Posthuman Institutions lead by Marina Otero Verzier and Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, together with Kamil Dalkir.
Research Department, Het Nieuwe Instituut: Marina Otero Verzier, Director of Research; Marten Kuijpers, Senior Researcher; Anastasia Kubrak, Researcher. OMA: Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Partner OMA; Laurence Bolhaar; Aleksandar Joksimovic; Anton Anikeev. RCA: Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli; Marina Otero Verzier; Kamil Dalkir. Students: Bahnfun Chittmittrapap, Jade Blanchard-Mckinley, Jake Arnfield, Rhiarna Dhaliwal, Ibiye Camp, Matthew Darmour-Paul, Teresa Boulting, Emmy Bacharach, Kristofers Sciapanovs, Maria Barnes, Maess Hadi, Lwanga Tikaka, Grace Schofield and Anabel Garcia Kurland.