5 Original International Data Center Designs

When most people think of building data center layouts, they don’t picture interesting architectural curiosities as much as they do a simple box of a room with rows of perfectly organized servers. However, in some cases, facilities have added artistic flair to their data centers, turning them into pleasant locations to showcase around the world.

Here are several of the more innovative data center designs that exist out there.

1. Bahnhof’s Pionen White Mountains

Pionen White Mountains

Located in Stockholm, Sweden, ISP Bahnhof’s Pionen White Mountains facility is one of the most interesting from an architectural standpoint. Part of the reason for this is its specific location: in a nuclear bunker from the Cold War era. It features a standard UPS system for continuous power, along with two Maybach diesel submarine engines for use as backup.

2. Green Mountain’s DC1-Stavanger

Green Mountain's DC1-Stavanger

Green Mountain’s Norway facility is another data center in a military location. Occupying a former underground NATO ammunition storage facility on an island, the DC1-Stavanger facility is cooled naturally with the water surrounding it 75 meters deep. The water remains 46 degrees Fahrenheit all year, and the oxygen level is kept at a constant 15% to avoid fires. It’s the perfect energy-efficient location for a facility, and provides plenty of space.

3. Yahoo Computing Coop

Yahoo Computing Coop

This data center in Lockport, New York looks like a chicken coop, and that’s mainly because it takes its cues from the design of old-school chicken coops. The reason for this is the design allows for 99% natural cooling, only requiring additional cooling in certain circumstances. Its power supply is also natural, receiving it hydroelectrically through the Niagara Falls.

4. Barcelona Supercomputing Center

Barcelona Supercomputing Center

Situated in Barcelona, Spain, the Barcelona Supercomputing Center is where the MareNostrum is located, a genome research supercomputer that serves multiple purposes. The facility itself was once a chapel named the Torre Girona, and is now part of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia campus.

5. CyberBunker


The Netherlands’ CyberBunker is yet another data center built on former military property, specifically a decommissioned Cold Ware era NATO nuclear bunker. Oddly enough, this facility was designed to go without access for 10 years, and it underwent two unsuccessful break-in attempts due to zoning disputes.

The first attempt involved officials in the city of Goes, who tried accessing the facility using hydraulic tools that are commonly used to recue car crash victims.

Later, a SWAT team also tried entering the facility, feebly banging a battering ram on the blast doors intended to resist nuclear blasts at close range. To this day, the staff, most of whom had been asleep inside during the SWAT raid, don’t know why the police conducted a raid, and the police department offered no explanation. They did, however, pay for the damages done to the facility’s perimeter fence.

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