Exploration Architecture


The Mountain Data Centre



The Mountain Data Centre is a new concept based on two key biomimetic ideas and offers substantial energy savings over conventional approaches.

The first idea was that, just as animals tend to move somewhere cool rather than use lots of energy to control their temperature, it makes more sense to locate data centres somewhere that is already cool and use high speed data transmission rather than using air-conditioning for data centres in urban areas. The cool location in this case is a mountain in Norway that has already been extensively mined for marble and has 90km of tunnels that are all at a steady temperature of 5oC.

The challenge then was to draw this cool air through the data blocks (the individual components of a data centre) in the most efficient way and for this we studied ‘Murray’s Law’. This mathematical principle suggests that most branching systems in biology are highly optimised for fluid transportation with minimal loss from turbulence or friction. Applying this to our data centre design resulted in a circular cluster of data blocks serviced by a highly efficient branched network of ducts.

Exploration created a film about the Mountain Data Centre for the Designing with Nature Exhibition at the Architecture Foundation in 2014. This film describes the two main biomimetic principles that informed Exploration’s design: making use of free cooling and using a mathematical principle called ‘Murray’s Law’ to substantially reduce the energy required to draw cool air through the data centre.


Client – Confidential
Architect – Exploration
Biologist – Professor Julian Vincent