Super Computer Centre by NAPUR Architect has circuitboard facade

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NAPUR Architect creates circuitboard pattern on facade of Super Computer Centre

The facade of this computer research centre at Hungary's University of Debrecen has been designed to reflect its function, with a grooved pattern inspired by a circuitboard (+ slideshow).

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

Budapest studio NAPUR Architect designed Super Computer Centre to house Hungary's largest and fastest supercomputer – a machine with thousands of processors that can perform complex tasks, such as weather forecasting.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

The building was commissioned by the University of Debrecen in eastern Hungary and the National Information Infrastructure Development Institute – a government-funded body in charge of providing computer networks for the country's academics and researchers.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

On the front facade of the two-storey building, a grooved pattern has been carved into the plaster exterior to represent the lines of a computer circuitboard.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

"Designing a building for computers, rather than people, gave us more freedom because it did not need as many openings," the architects told Dezeen. "We could design a closed and introverted building, similar to a chapel."

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

The 400-square-metre structure, and the raised height of its facade, mirror the proportions of an adjacent engineering research centre also designed by NAPUR Architect , which is covered in moveable corrugated steel panels.

"The first cube is very popular among students and staff, and the university wanted another clear architectural statement that would refer to its neighbour," said the architects.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

They cite Expressionism – the artistic movement that sought to represent emotional experience over physical reality – as the inspiration for the new building's abstract facade.

"As a practice, we are engaged in reinvigorating transcendent Expressionism," they said. "We think it is very important to show the mystery of architecture, and in this case, the mystery of architecture and science represented together."

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

Research and laboratory buildings often feature unusual facades to mask or celebrate their functions. Other examples include the University of Bristol's science laboratory building in England, which is covered in wavy aluminium panels to conceal ventilation channels, and an electrical testing facility in Spain covered in crinkled polished metal.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

Inside the University of Debrecen's building, the bulk of the ground floor is devoted to housing the supercomputer. Enough space was also left inside so that it can be doubled in size in the future.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

On the first floor, there is a research laboratory and a room for mechanical equipment used to cool the supercomputer. Cooling units are also housed outside, in a gap between the building's inner core and its external walls.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

The building was constructed with reinforced concrete, which is covered in plaster and expanded polystyrene foam – a lightweight external insulating board.

"The goal was to create a dramatic design using common, cost-effective materials," said the architects.

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR

Construction was completed in one year and four months.

Photography is by Tamás Bujnovszky.


Project credits:

Senior architect: Marcel Ferencz
Co-architect: György Détári
Structure: Ferenc Pap
Engineering: Géza Porosz

Super Computer Centre by NAPUR
Site plan – click for larger image
Super Computer Centre by NAPUR
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Super Computer Centre by NAPUR
First floor plan – click for larger image
Super Computer Centre by NAPUR
Section – click for larger image