Mecanoo, the international architectural firm, has released the innovative design for its new 63,000 sq m data centre, to be located in the Qianhai business centre in Shenzhen, China

The data centre will provide communications infrastructure for companies and for public services and utilities in the Qianhai zone. It also provides an ideally-located communications hub between Shenzhen, one of the fastest-growing commercial areas of mainland China, and Hong Kong, located just over the border at Qianhai.

The inventive facility consists of an opaque tower, housing the racks and data centre equipment, set atop an open plinth where office, meeting, and support spaces will be located.

The 113 m tower consists of concrete panels set with a grid of protruding concrete ‘pixels’, and light sources that can be brightened by project images on the structure itself at night, leading Mecanoo to describe the structure as a ‘digital lighthouse’.

By day, the concrete protrusions on the tower will create ‘an image of clouds in the style of a traditional Chinese painting’. The lower level will be planted with foliage, with offices on the exterior loop, providing a green space for the people working in and visiting the three-story control centre, offices, and support areas.

“Infrastructural facilities are the functional heart of modern cities,” states the Mecanoo website. “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 Qianhai Special Economic Zone was created in 2010 to facilitate communications between Hong Kong and mainland China, offering various incentives intended to encourage foreign financial investment. These policies include preferential tax treatments such as a 15 percent flat corporate income tax (a significant saving on the regular mainland corporate tax of 25%) and exemption from personal income tax for qualified employees.

Businesses in Qianhai include technology, finance, logistics, IT, communications, and other professional services. Corporate real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield named the Qianhai business zone one of the top three areas in the region for investors and developers, and believes that the 26 million sq m zone will be the fourth largest core business centre, in the world when completed.