Design roundup: thin floors, floating offices and plastic micro-factories

by Imogen Privett
// Research

Hot off the heels of COP26, this month’s Innovation Zone design roundup brings you the best of sustainable architecture and innovation from around the world

Rethinking big data (centres)

Data centres are the largely invisible heart of our increasingly digital world. Typically located out of city centres inside nondescript warehouses, these buildings are packed with the servers that store and distribute our digital lives. They also account for an estimated one per cent of global electricity usage. This equates to approximately 300 terrawatt hours of electricity annually – in perspective, that’s more than the annual energy used by all but eleven countries in the world. A new design initiative by Google and Microsoft aims to counteract some of those impacts by fundamentally rethinking how data centres are designed.

Teaming up with an interdisciplinary group of students from three US universities, the tech giants launched a year-long project to explore what more sustainable data centres might look like. The students explored a wide range of design approaches, both in terms of using more sustainable energy and materials, but also relating to how data centres might become a community good as well as an essential element of infrastructure.

View the full report here.

Written by Imogen Privett.