FFBK Architects completes metal-clad data storage centre

FFBK Architects completes "most advanced data storage centre in Switzerland"

This data storage centre in Basel has a ridged shell of both perforated and solid steel panels, designed by Ffbk Architects to offer fragmented reflections of the sky and surroundings (+ slideshow).

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

The Datacube was designed by local studio FFBK Architects for communications and entertainment firm Quickline and is situated in the Münchenstein district to the south of the Swiss city.

The three-storey building houses servers and data storage devices for corporate IT and cloud computing applications. According to the architects, it is the "most advanced data storage centre in Switzerland".

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

Ffbk Architects created a monolithic concrete and steel structure to contain 2,500 square metres of storage. A planned basement was rejected as it could have been compromised by the building's proximity to the Birs river.

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

The simple cubic form features external walls made from insulated sandwich panels. Its facades are entirely clad in reflective steel panels with trapezoidal steel sections that create a homogenous ridged surface.

"The concept of reflection as the metaphor of data reflecting our society’s cultural change has led to a mirroring facade, preventing all intrusive views from the outside world," said the architects in a project description.

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

"The monolith reflects the immediate surroundings and the sky on its stainless steel cladding," they added. "The statement of this compact building seems quite abstract in this rural neighbourhood."

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

In areas where windows are integrated into the elevations, perforated metal was used on the facade. It allows some light to enter and permits partial views out, while limiting views into the building.

The arrangement of alternating solid and perforated sections disrupts the uniformity of the reflective surfaces and creates a subtly shifting stripy pattern that animates the facades.

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

A metal fence surrounding the facility adds to its nondescript appearance, contributing to the sense of security. Planting alongside this fence offers a natural contrast to the building's otherwise industrial design.

The data centre's interior incorporates an office, break area and meeting rooms on the ground floor, with the technical spaces occupying the upper levels. Red flooring introduces a brightly coloured detail inside the building and a black suspended metal ceiling diffuses the lighting positioned above it.

Datacube by ffbk Architekten

Sustainability was an important factor in the design. The overall energy consumption of the building is just 10 kilowatts per square metre.

Other examples of technical facility designs include a concrete and steel bunker that stores the British Film Institute's entire film collection and an engineering research facility in Hungary.