Augures, laboratoires des nouvelles pratiques architecturales
BAP Biennale d’architecture et de paysage Versailles 2019
Sea Cabling and Data Centers: the Portolan map of the new economy
Digital Rooms is an ongoing research project that aims to investigate the way in which the new technologies are producing new typologies of infrastructures that are already part, in terms of architectural and infrastructural objects, of the worldwide global landscape.
Places and infrastructures located in the most remote part of the globe as well as in the major economic centers, anonymous or deeply characterized, apparently unrelated and usually unrecognized, represent the nodes of an unacknowledged network that runs an enormous flow of information, money and data, and affects movements and choices of millions of people, governments and companies.
Usually considered as ethereal and intangible, the digital infrastructure is actually linked and implemented by an impressive physical network, which involves a complex mesh of geographical, geopolitical, economic and design issues. The installation focuses on undersea cabling and data centers.
The global undersea cable connection carries more than 97% of the world’s digital information and trillion dollars in deals every day. Invisible, thousands of meters deep, coated with Kevlar to protect them from sharks and other accidental events, fiber-optic cables are draped across the sea floor connecting nations and continents, running for more than one million kilometers.
Their representations sit in the lineage of the classic maritime maps for which the Portolan are renowned precedents. Data centers represent the nodes of this infrastructural network. Millions of businesses’ IT systems and archives worldwide rely on their functioning. Data centers are, for the most part, copy and paste architectures. The model is defined in its first install, and then repeated with the exact dimensions and shape.
The aesthetics of these spaces appears oddly fascinating. Materials, technologies, structures, control systems create a landscape that is self-confined and completely immune to external or accidental circumstances. Self-referentiality and self-sufficiency are part of their uncanny charm, and generate a hyper refined yet radically inexpressive architectural environment.