Motherboard layout inspires design for 94,000 sq m Shanghai Futures Exchange Data Processing Center
Designed by Silvio d’Ascia Architecture with AREP and SMAD, the data processing centre for the Shanghai Futures Exchange is located in the Zhang Jiang High-Tech Park, a new business district approximately 21 km from the high-rises of Pudong. The complex interprets the logic of a computer motherboard on an urban scale. The enormous size of the project becomes apparent quickly - its site measures ten hectares (420 x 230 m), bordered to the North by a main artery, Weisan Road, and to the South by the Zhaungjiabang River.
Deriving inspiration from the digital age of super computers, the 94,000 sq m data centre is composed of fourteen buildings housing production, research, development, and recreational activities. These functions are organised as computer chips within a motherboard and the site is traversed by a pedestrian path, itself recalling the lines of electronic circuits joining different parts of a microprocessor.
The complex is divided into three ‘constructed bands’: one containing office spaces (50,000 sq m) in a rectangular volume sliced into five sections by entry lobbies; one central band with presentation buildings - the welcome centre used for events and exhibits (4,500 sq m), the sports centre (3,500 sq m) and the data centre (10,000 sq m) to the West; and a series of smaller, organically arranged buildings located in the park area (in close proximity to the river to the South) containing the conference centre and its hotel tower (12,500 sq m) next to the entry plaza and three buildings for training and research (5,500 sq m).
The building facades are inspired from ancient Chinese geometrical shapes, specifically through their use of binary signs which are traditionally arranged in various ways as a means to understand the laws of the universe. These geometric creations are formed by manipulating two smaller rectangles (Yin) and one larger one (Yan) - the composition leads to various configurations of three parallel lines, each possessing a unique interpretation.
This geometric concept is also a reference to the digital realm and era of the pixel, and forms a complementary visual element to the numerous ventilation ducts required by the buildings' server rooms.