Restructuring the internet - An infrastructure programme addressing the problem of data use

by Robert Makey from Faculty of Art and Design Manchester School of Architecture, United Kingdom
Tutored by: Prof . Tom Jefferies, Dr. Laura Coucill, Richard Morton, Dr. Luca Csepely-Knorr

Author comments:

The project aims to tackle the ever-growing problem of data storage by exploring the radical shift of transmitting data to Space, restructuring the physical internet and storing our data in orbiting satellites. The project started as a wider spatial audit into the county of Cornwall, producing Atlases which covered the themes of Health, Demographics, Power & Energy and Networks & Connectivity. The published research highlighted key faults within the infrastructure, networks and lifestyle of Cornwall. One of the main questions the research posed was; could the migration of a large data provider transform Cornwall? A global tech company could maximize on Cornwall’s ultra-high digital connectivity, bringing investment in its latent physical infrastructure and potentially reversing the emigration of skilled youth.
Further research exposed the energy hungry nature of data storage and unsustainable data growth which at the current rate is set to outgrow the worlds energy supply. Data centers represent more than 3% of the worlds energy consumption, growing exponentially each year.
The solution presented within this project is a spatial program across Cornwall that maximizes its existing visible and invisible infrastructure. It manifests into a Cornwall-wide program focusing on four key areas; a Falmouth innovation & research hub, a launch site on the Isles of Scilly, an exhibition and viewing area at Lands End and finally, a command center at Goonhilly Earth Station.

Tutor comments:

This is a cross-cutting project which deals with prevalent and timely questions concerning the transformational and disruptive effects of digital networks and technologies for operational ground space. It is not a conventional architectural design project but a thorough research inquiry which examines the role and quality of space in the context of ubiquitous connectivity. With theoretical breadth and depth, the project explores the interface between physical and digital capacity. It highlights the transitions needed in architectural and urban design in order to respond to emerging functions and typologies and, in particular, the convergence of real and virtual proximity.

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