Architectus acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we live and work.

We honour their unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters, sky, and communities and their rich contribution to society.

This website uses cookies to offer you a great experience and to help us understand how our website is being used. By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For full details on how we manage data, read our Privacy Policy.

Accept
Mission critical: the rising demand for data centres

Mission critical: The rising demand for data centres

Smart phones. Streaming services. Online gaming. Hybrid working.

Our everyday habits – combined with the accelerating needs of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – are intensifying the demand for digital infrastructure.

Demand in the US is forecast to reach 35GW by 2030,1 meaning current data centre capacity needs to nearly double.

Microsoft and OpenAI are planning a USD$100 billion 5GW supercomputer campus by 2028 to continue developing AI models.2 Amazon also announced it will invest USD$150 billion in data centres over the next 15 years to maintain a cloud computing edge over Microsoft and Google.3

In Australia, the relative scale of growth is similar, with the domestic market forecast to see a compound annual growth rate of over 7% until 2028.4

The biggest players – hyperscalers and co-location providers – are scouring the country for suitable sites for these critical pieces of infrastructure, as vital to society as transport networks or power stations.

A challenging pace

With a typical two- to three-year turnaround from site acquisition to go-live, data centre supply is struggling to keep pace with demand.

The availability of power and connection to fibre networks usually dictate the suitability of a site, now more likely to be in existing urban areas with greater planning constraints.

But this poses challenges, with few town planning schemes considering data centres as a desired use for land. To streamline the approvals process, it’s even more vital that facilities are designed to be in sync with their context and community.

Other site constraints include boundaries that aren’t rectilinear and challenging topography, making the roll-out of template designs difficult.

But one of the most vital considerations has nothing to do with location, planning, power, or even technology.

Mission critical: the rising demand for data centres

It’s about the people operating, visiting, or doing business within these facilities. What will make an employee want to work there? What will win over a new customer?

This is precisely where design becomes critical in the overall process.

Engineers provide the much-needed expertise to meet the technical and equipment needs of data centres. But only architects, interior designers and urban designers can create facilities that embrace the fast-changing digital future without losing sight of the fundamental needs and aspirations of people and cities.

A new class of centre

In Brisbane, Architectus is working on the second stage of NEXTDC B2.

The first stage of B2 was Australia’s first Uptime Tier IV certified facility, with several independent and physically isolated systems that act as redundant capacity components and distribution paths.

Our latest work on B2 is the next step toward creating a new class of data centre – one that balances engineering realities with a facility that responds to human needs.

In fact, demonstrating B2’s positive contribution to its context and community as part of an emerging innovation precinct was key in obtaining planning approval.

At Constance Street (see image above), the building’s frontage is designed for activity, with four levels of customer and office space revealed through maximum glazing. These levels feature projecting balconies, planters and ‘pods’ to breakdown scale and enrich the environment for pedestrians.

Overall, the building’s massing is simple and legible, with a distinctive upper and lower strata.

Mission critical: the rising demand for data centres

A company showcase and engaging workplace

B2 Stage 2 provides more technical space for data halls and plant requirements.

But it also represents a more sophisticated offer to meet emerging company, customer and staff needs, introducing elements such as a Client Experience Centre and an 80-seat auditorium.

As NEXTDC’s head office, it will also reflect the company’s direction and aspirations and support collaborative, hybrid working.

The design of the facility’s dedicated floor for customers demonstrates the thinking NEXTDC put into creating a welcoming, inclusive experience.

It houses a ‘town hall’ style gathering space that can be used for larger forums and events. Day-to-day spaces include a range of meeting and training rooms, a parent’s room, a multi-faith room, a games arcade and a lounge. Secure on-site parking and top-quality End of Trip facilities complete the offer.

B2 Stage 2’s blend of technical innovation and human-centred design demonstrates that data centres can do more than just serve society’s ever-increasing technology demands. They can also contribute to meeting the fundamental needs and aspirations of people and cities.

Dean Symington is a Perth-based Principal and Market Lead Data at Architectus. He has led the design and development of mission-critical facilities in Australia for clients including NEXTDC, Microsoft, Amazon, and the Department of Defence.

More

Mission critical: the rising demand for data centres
Sustainable design wins at NSW Chapter Awards