Antrum Studio, an architecture firm based in Sant’Anna d’Alfaedo, Italy, has embarked on an innovative project called Cloud Architecture. Led by Principal Architect Oleg Pigulevskii, the design team consisting of Nadezhda Baukova, Alisa Guseva, Liia Mamina, Valerie Borodina, Maria Schepotina, and Victoria Isakova aims to redefine the traditional concept of data centers. In this project, the data center becomes more than just a functional facility; it transforms into a social object and a unique local attraction, blending seamlessly with the surrounding landscape.
The Cloud Architecture project incorporates sustainable development principles and envisions the data center as an integral part of a tourist route connecting the city of Verona with the Lessinia Nature Reserve. The data center serves as an excursion and educational destination, attracting visitors who seek knowledge, new experiences, and the scenic beauty of northern Italy.
Embracing the ethos of sustainability, the project includes the construction of a public park adjacent to the data center. This park, designed for public use, features underground parking and essential amenities. At the heart of the park lies the Public Training VR/AR Pavilion, where visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Lessinia region, explore information about data centers, and experience the world from a fresh perspective using virtual and augmented reality technologies.
The data center’s architectural layout harmoniously integrates with the natural landscape, forming an organic structure. The closed area of the data center is surrounded by walking paths and observation platforms offering breathtaking views of the valley and mountains. The project repurposes old military bunkers, giving the abandoned territory new functionality, aesthetics, and financial viability while respecting the existing harmony with nature.
In line with sustainable architecture principles, the complex incorporates the Manni Energy solar panel device, providing renewable energy and resource conservation.
The data center complex comprises three interconnected buildings constructed on the site of the underground bunkers. This arrangement not only preserves the historical identity of the location but also reinforces the integration of architecture with the surrounding landscape. The buildings are united by an underground protected space housing the server room—the core of the data center—which breathes new life into the remaining structures and the surrounding area.
At the center of the complex, above the servers, exists the Archicloud—an augmented reality (AR) space visible only through AR devices. It complements the physical buildings, representing the fusion of the real world and the web 3.0. While the server room remains physically closed to all but data center employees, the Archicloud serves as a virtual reflection of the architectural complex and a metaverse for the data center.
Users from anywhere in the world can access the metaverse to embark on virtual tours, attend specialized events, join remote meetings, and partake in various activities not available within the physical premises. The Archicloud is a flexible space with limitless potential, and its abstract virtual data cloud can be visualized using AR technologies.
The overall spatial composition of the project embraces a dual structure, combining the realms of the real and the virtual. This synthesis of real and virtual architecture forms the project’s core concept, creating a sense of semantic completeness in space. Through the utilization of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies, individuals can experience a deeper and more immersive perception of the world around them.
Two striking installations, represented by real and virtual trees, act as spatial dominants, seamlessly blending the interior spaces with the exterior. These installations also serve as a unifying element between the physical space of the data center and the Archicloud. Visitors within the data center can catch a glimpse of the virtual tree installation through the WebAR Scanner, creating a captivating visual connection.
Data centers play a pivotal role as the engines of the digital economy, and their design should reflect the transformation of physical reality at the intersection with the digital virtual environment. The Cloud Architecture project sets new trends for modern urban spaces, envisioning a mixed reality format that merges seamlessly with the physical world.