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Column Adriaan Mout - Data centers and kitchen tables

16 December 2020

Cobouw Adriaan Mout 201119 Datacenters en keukentafels

Last week we launched a plan for a tower with starter homes in the social sector in the Amsterdam Zuidas for housing corporation De Key. These homes also fit in with the advance of the compact home that I wrote about last time in this place. And where there is a major challenge and design assignment to generate sufficient quality on 20, 30 and 40 m². At the Zuidas we do this with well-thought-out floor plans, smart interior solutions and a number of shared facilities. A sports field on top of the building and work space at the bottom, a communal lounge and a garden.

We physically arrange the sharing of facilities, but of course that happens much more in the cloud. And that is an important reason why we have started to look at compact living differently. The bookshelf has become an e-reader, the record cabinet Spotify and the DVD cabinet has been replaced by Netflix. And the car becomes a shared car.

The consequences of this sharing and storage in the cloud are enormous. It provides an unlikely amount of data that makes the compact home clean and empty. But that leaves behind very visible traces for the organization of our country, both in and outside the city. Hundreds of data centers are spread across the country. Often hidden, but sometimes also dominant. From immense buildings in the city, sized like a solid flat building, to huge sprawling complexes along the highway. With a gigantic energy demand that should preferably be generated sustainably. Which leads to ridiculous situations, as Arjan Lubach recently showed at the Microsoft exchange in the Middenmeer polder.

The influence of data storage has thus become a spatial challenge. And working from home has only boosted this data flow. Which brings us back to the same home because working at home requires from us thinking about floor plans differenty. Working at home, and not just at the kitchen table, is a new design challenge for compact homes. We already draw desks in place of wardrobes. Now find a way to park our clothes in the cloud.