Mega iAdvantage, the first dedicated high-rise datacentre in Asia, is located in an old industrial area in Hong Kong Island East. Constructed on foundations originally intended for another building, the thirty-one-storey datacentre was completed in just 380 days after design inception. In terms of spatial allocation it has a hardware to person ratio of 7:3. The development of this project was ‘organic’ in so far as the programme evolved during the course of construction.
In terms of the design approach, the datacentre demonstrates our interest in fundamental architectural elements. Surface is the primary element which visually defines the material presence. The formation of surface and its subsequent breakdown into zones, loops and lines are explored in the project.
Given the limited time available and the absence of a frozen brief, we consider the datacentre not as a single project, but as a summation of all the possible projects generated on this plot of land. Under this ‘mutating’ brief, Mega iAdvantage is categorized into “the Façade Project – surface experiment”, “the Lobby Project – zone experiment”, “the Typical Floor Project – loop experiment” and “the Headquarters Project – line experiment”. The series of experiments are attempted to rethink the relationship between spatiality and materiality through the extensive use of reflectivity, transparency and opacity.
The Façade Project
To ease the construction process within the time constraint, indentation of the building mass is minimized, resulting in a rectangular block, with a podium following the site boundary. The building envelope is divided into five surfaces: four façades and a podium. Each is designed with its own autonomous logic and results in a diversity of visual impressions depending on the direction of approach. The main (south) façade is clad in industrial corrugated steel panels with standardized aluminium ribbon windows which gives a shiny effect in the afternoon sun. A graphic pattern of vertical strips in inexpensive ceramic tile is applied on the east façade. The west façade, which is visble only from afar, is finished in texture spray paint with a huge sign-board on the roof. The least prominent rear façade is designed in black tile. The streamline podiumis covered with black perforated aluminium panels with silver supergraphicsand a translucent plexiglass light-wall at street level.
The Lobby Project
The main lobby is comprised of linear zones, which suggest a perpendicular direction of movement. Two gigantic free-form objects, one in timber, the other in aluminium, are designed as security zones. The former acts as a security partition with a waiting bench while the latter incorporates surveillance equipment. The other linear zones are the gallery, the entrance, the lift lobby and the building management control centre. The drastically different touches for each zone provide a montage of various spatialities in the small lobby space.
The Headquarters Project
The headquarters, Megatop, located on the top two floors, is conceived as an interplay of fins (a wire-frame model) and surfaces with a variety of transparencies. These spaces are generated from a matrix of lines. All surfaces become abstract from afar, whilst their materiality emerges at close proximity.
Starting from the double space atrium, the lines form the outer layer of the internal façade and run three-dimensionally along the longitudinal axis. The line pattern varies in different areas and in different materials ranging from aluminium fins, steel baffles, carpets, silk-screen glass and acoustic panels. Within this simulated ‘wire-frame’ stands a glass box housing the Network Operation Centre of the corporation. The hardware zones are located on the lower level while the office spaces are stacked on top with an internal ramp connected the two.
The Typical Floor Project
Floors containing hardware find expression in a rhythm of alternate loops of reflective materials (mirrors and galvanized steel sheets) and timber. Variations in reflectivity animate the movement along the 50 metres long corridor.