mecanoo proposes digital lighthouse and cantilevered gardens for qianhai data center

mecanoo proposes digital lighthouse and cantilevered gardens for qianhai data center

mecanoo elevates the role of the data center to an urban symbol of innovation with a 113 meter-tall digital ‘lighthouse’ proposal for the qianhai commercial development in shenzhen. the qianhai data center is divided into a closed and an open component, comprising a well-insulated opaque tower containing only racks, and an open plinth with offices and support spaces. wrapped in a full-façade pixelated screen, the tower bears the image of clouds in the style of a traditional chinese painting by day, while by night it becomes alive as a dynamic digital screen.

 mecanoo proposes a digital lighthouse & cantilevered gardens for the qianhai data centerall images courtesy of mecanoo architecten



the qianhai data center proposal marks the arrival to the growing pilot district, the result of a collaboration between mainland china and hong kong aiming to promote the development of IT services and of the modern service industry. prominently located along the yanjing highway, mecanoo’s proposal is clad in a façade of 3.2m x 1.8m concrete panels, each with a grid of 15 x 12 ‘pixels’. the pixels are composed of two layers: protruding concrete elements that form the cloud image, and light sources in the center and around the edges of each pixel.

 mecanoo proposes a digital lighthouse & cantilevered gardens for the qianhai data center



the lower part of the building incorporates a plinth with landscaped terraces which opens the data center towards its surroundings and offers a pleasant green working environment. publicly accessible areas of the building, including a post office and the main lobby, face tinghai avenue, the main city boulevard, while above that are the three-level control center and a double-height operational center hall with management offices and technical support spaces. the office areas are arranged along the fully glazed outer facades, so that workers have a direct view onto the shifting landscaped terraces.



‘infrastructural facilities are the functional heart of modern cities,’ notes the delft-based firm. ‘although usually concealed, these buildings are essential for urban daily life. when visible, they have the capacity of being a symbol of the technological achievements of our time. the aqueduct was a symbol of the development of the roman empire, and broadcast antennas have become icons in city skylines. likewise, data centers are relatively new infrastructural facilities that can substantially contribute to a city’s identity.’



project info:


architects: mecanoo architecten

local architects: huasen architects

name: qianhai data center

location: shenzhen, china

program: 63,000 m2 data center (15,000m2 below ground and 48,000m2 above ground) with a post office, network control centre offices, control room, double-height operation centre hall and technical support offices, a management office and meeting rooms in the plinth; data infrastructure (racks) and supporting spaces in the tower above; technical spaces and a regional cooling station in the underground levels

client: shenzhen qianhai development & investment holding co., ltd.

award: 2nd prize competition

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