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Sheppard Robson reveals global data centre model

Sheppard Robson Corgan has unveiled designs for a generic data centre building to house computers serving the web - a market which already covers one trillion (a million million) square feet of office space worldwide and which the designers say is coming to the UK in a big way.

The company, a joint venture between the Camden-based architects and Corgan Associates of Dallas in the US, has done a deal with property and servicing company MWB Konnect to provide a new generation of 'computer hotels' and has found a Frankfurt site for the first of the 50,000m 2-plus buildings.

The architect says that the scheme can be built inside 40 weeks, while the design can be applied anywhere in the world without major alterations.

And it predicts that, barring a major slow-down in the market, every UK city will soon have a data centre.Already computer giant Cisco Systems estimates that more than 55 million host servers will be in operation this year. Every time an e-mail is sent, this type of building is needed to process the information concerned.

The client wanted a new-build solution, rather than the common, 'inferior', refurbishment option, and each will boast a 'guaranteed' uninterrupted power supply with a zero risk of disruption.

Sheppard Robson Corgan projects director Mark Dillon said the 'host buildings' largely consist of rows of high revenue-generating computers in a clean and secure environment, maintained around the clock to house Internet servers. The design features a futuristic three-storey, oval 'pod' providing 2,000m 2of office space, reception and lifts, with a skin of perforated metal sheeting. The front part of the main, largely 'dark' building housing the computers features a 'street' with bolt-fixed planar glazing to provide animation. 'The street is an integral part of our design, bestowing a lightness, ' said Dillon. 'But more importantly, it is a part of the single point of access system to the technical space behind.'

The client - made up of an operational management team and property outfit Marylebone Warwick Balfour Group - is aiming at the UK and looking at two other sites in Europe. It tends to pick large sites for the buildings, which also feature full landscaping.

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