Standard grating panels are essentially conceived of as being load-bearing surfaces used for walkways. The Dutch architects Cepezed, however, have used the grids vertically as facade elements for a data centre.
The Technopolis Science Park in Delft contains a high-tech data centre belonging to the Datacenter group, with 2,500 m² of server space. It is reputed to be the most modern data processing and storage facility in the Netherlands. In particular, extensive precautions have been taken in connection with fire prevention and power supply. This also applies to the building’s shell. The three-storey, windowless concrete structure is enclosed by a facade made from vertically mounted grating panels. Both the panels and the facade sub-structure have been constructed from hot dip galvanized steel. The galvanized surfaces are impressive, not only because of their outstanding corrosion prevention properties, but also because of their metallic appearance. “The attractive thing about galvanizing is the colour which the material acquires with time” says Michiel Cohen, who was one of the founders of Cepezed a decade ago, in an interview with Hot Dip Galvanizing Magazine. A total of 1,514 hot dip galvanized panels with lengths of between 6 and 2.1m and widths of between 0.4 and 0.2m envelop this cube-shaped part of the structure. The facades also protect the building services equipment installed externally. Thanks to a high degree of air permeability of up to 80%, a very high proportion of the installation’s heat is extracted. Simultaneously, the comparatively light facade panels reduce the wind loading and offer effective protection against vandalism, sabotage and graffiti.
Seen from a distance, the data centre looks like a tightly closed metal box. As you get nearer to the building, the facade reveals the technological equipment which lies behind it. This effect is predominantly caused by the serrated webs which are almost vertical in the grid, and thus cause the facade to appear flat or transparent, depending on the angle of observation.
Image: Cepezed and Graepel Seehausen