Ghost in the Machine: Architecture, People and Data
In an age of electronic networks and digital communities, the ability to access the world’s knowledge from anywhere, by anyone, at anytime is the new reality. With data growing at an exponential rate, questions of its physical manifestation in the socio-environment become inescapable. As digital networks grow and develop a mounting influence on our urban and social condition, it becomes critical to develop a platform from which a tangible relationship with data in the public realm can be accomplished. The Data Centre is an architectural typology that has recently emerged in response to the rapid consumption and production of digital information. While these data centers serve in driving global communication and economies, they operate as impenetrable objects without a common physical expression away from red and blue wires. Many adapt existing buildings and bunkers, occupy nondescript warehouses and are placed in remote sites for reasons of energy consumption and security. The current data centre typology blends in to urban contexts, sometimes disregarding humanised space entirely, justified as a response to operational constraints. The illegibility of this architectural strategy camouflages the physicalness of rapid digital data production and consumption. Giving data this ‘ghost’ like presence within the mechanisms of the modern world. This thesis proposes the need for an architectural response aware of the changing knowledge landscape, one that recognizes that the human condition in the digital environment requires more than just a sign to Silicon Valley. Calling for an architectural restructuring of the data centre, enacting a tangible interface in the pursuit to locate the human condition within the digital expanse.