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You are here : Home / Architecture Projects > Construction projects > Datacentres > Modular Datacentre to the East of Paris

Modular Datacentre to the East of Paris

The conception and construction of Modular Datacentres

During the last few months Reid Brewin Architectes have been working on a project to develop a modular datacentre to the east of Paris. This architectural project was first initiated in 2011 and the construction phase is predicted to start by the end of 2013. We have developed the project using Revit in order to be as efficient as possible. This makes the collaboration with other consultants easier and allows for faster in-house drawings being produced.

Modular Datacentre to the east of ParisAerial view of the Modular Datacentre to the east of Paris

The principles in the construction of a modular datacentre

The main constraints of this project are due to the PLU (Local Planning Plan) and there are also some geotechnical aspects to consider. One particular consequence of local planning directives concerns the roof. We are not able to install heavy technical elements there, as would normally be the case. The geotechnical issue is due to the nature of the ground, which is soft , which means looking carefully at the construction of the foundations.
Modular Datacenter to the east of ParisDiagram showing the phasing of the modular datacentre

The datacentre is comprised of one main building as an outer shell under which the modules are housed. The construction of the datacentre is to allow for new modules to be added as and when required by either existing or new occupants to the building. Thus, the concept provides areas and zones that can be extended as necessary. 

The advantages in these principles of construction are the flexibility of the space as well as providing real possibilities for upgrading and expanding the site in the future. As each module is independent, separate technical and technological solutions specific to the needs of each client can be provided.

Key areas of a modular datacentre

Modular Datacentre, east of ParisThe key areas of a modular datacentre
This modular datacentre developed by our architectural design team at Reid Brewin Architects is organised around the following distinct areas:

  • A technical area (external) which houses the large cooling systems
  • An internal technical area on the ground floor which houses the batteries, the electrical equipment (which must be kept waterproof and dry), the pumps that bring the cooling water and the power inverters (UPS - uninterrupted power supply) 
  • A "data room" area, placed above the lower technical areas 
  • An office area.

The system used in the construction of this datacentre is based on the clever use of "Post and Beam" construction, that allows the building to be resized as necessary whilst the architectural coherence and scale of the modular datacentre remains in keeping with the other areas and buildings across the site.

The architectural concept of the modular datacentre

When designing a datacenter, the difficulty lies in creating a building that does not give the impression of a industrial "box". In this project Reid Brewin Architects therefore chose to animate the facade and reduce the 'solid' nature of the elevations by alternating open areas with opaque areas. This segmentation aims to break up the monotony of the facades and make the large building easier to relate to on a human scale. We introduced various architectural design features, including slats, downpipes, metal railings to emphasise the vertical segmentation of the modules whilst ensuring the design remained integrated as one unit. The base footings of the foundations are clad in vertical strips of wood or metal and the detailing of the access doors provides a seamless integration into the elevations.

The concept looks at dealing with transitions: firstly the transition between the building towards the sky and secondly the transition between the base of the building and the ground. The top level is finished with slatted upright blades to give a lighter quality to this part of the elevation, and the foundation footings at the base are made of vertical concrete blades. This use of verticality in the cladding and in the footings creates a coherence of architectural detailling throughout the site and this continues with vertical metal railings being used around the outside technical areas. 
A palette of tonal shades of the same base colour gives a sense of lightness to the facade and creates a shared universal aesthetic in the project.
Modular Datacentre, east of ParisDesign studies of the external facades

The modular datacentre integrated into its surroundings

This datacentre is located within a development zone (ZAC) and as such, it must comply with specific rules in terms of urban planning. In addition, one of the neighbouring companies has the 'right to inspection' of any external works and landscaping in the zone. In this regard we are working closely with this firm's architectural team who must validate the design and aesthetic quality of the proposed project.
In order for the modular datacentre to best integrate into its environment, we have chosen to give extensive consideration to the landscaping design. In the area surrounding the datacentre small hillocks and groves of trees will be created to conceal external technical areas, in compliance with the development zone's specific landscaping requirements. With judicious use of vegetation, the most impressive parts of the building are highlighted with an imposing perspective view from outside the site towards the office buildings.
Modular Datacentre, east of ParisPerspective view of the modular datacentre in its surroundings
Do not hesitate to contact us for more information regarding our wide experience in datacentre projects.     

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