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The Undecorated Shed

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I recently subscribed to the newsfeed but, after a fortnight, had to unsubscribe. The amount of news was simply too much to process!

A sample.

Don’t let data center fads fool you — some are here to stay
by Robert McFarlane, Contributor

Could your data center benefit from free cooling or intelligent power strips, LED lighting or SSD storage? Let’s parse the latest data center trends.

A great deal of data center improvements focus on cooling and humidity control, many on power, some on workload management and performance, and still others on the data center design and layout. Let’s start with the copious cooling and humidity control options available in today’s data centers:

Most of these focus on conserving energy use through higher temperatures, ambient air and targeting cooled air rather than blast-chilling the entire data center.

In other news ….

Businesses can slash data center energy consumption through a combination of updated technologies and technical practices.

presents new hybrid designs for data centers that combine the performance and reliability of traditional centralized systems with the flexibility, agility and cost efficiency of next-gen data center designs.  

Data center operations don’t just put a strain on organizations but on the environment as well. It’s vital that we try and reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible while still operating the data center to its fullest capacity. 

In today’s tough economic times IT budgets are becoming tighter than ever, so most organizations are exploring ways to make changes to their data centers and computing environments in order to achieve costs savings. 

As data center power costs skyrocket, IT professionals are looking to every corner of their environments to reduce power costs. Technologies like server virtualization are improving server utilization, while server hardware designs are vastly improving energy efficiency for substantial power savings.

Other news from affiliated sites included articles on

All that was just about data centres. Undecorated Shed #1. There’s always room for improvement but I admire this endless quest to make them more energy efficient. It is a very active field of research trying to make them better at what they do.

Undecorated Shed #2. Here’s another useful building type. It’s used to store energy. Cool huh? We already know them as shipping containers. Misfits’ is partial to shipping containers. It’s no secret – they do the job, and continue to find new ones. What’s not to love? In the field of renewable energy, shipping containers are used to house energy storage and conversion apparatus. These ones below are very handsome. They’re like the Domino House all over again, only this time more relevant. If we choose. 


To save on the standard HVAC system running costs, these ones above have 

a hybrid, or combination of both simple air heating or cooling coupled with pumped refrigerant evaporators to more efficiently remove bulk heat from the air stream rather always running a compressor.

Expect to see a lot more of them.


These buildings are already highly evolved but will never be perfect. They are another example of an architecture-resistant building. I hope they stay that way for otherwise, we will have Decorated Sheds. 

Here’s a substation disguised as a suburban house. This doesn’t happen quite as often as it used to.


This next one is a district cooling plant by Ellerbe Becket. [Footnote: Just as Riyadh’s new overlords are Ellerbe Becket’s Kingdom Tower, Ellerbe Becket’s new overlords are AECOM.]


Not that that has anything to do with this particular district cooling plant of theirs which is a part of – as it happens – Dubai Healthcare City.

Dubai Healthcare City district cooling plant

This could be an opportunity to say “THE DISTRICT COOLING PLANT IS TRYING TO BE BEAUTIFUL!” but, to be fair, Dubai Healthcare City does have a rather stringent design code that, like design codes everywhere, has great faith it will provide the right solution. [Here’s a cheeky link to some misfits’ prehistory.The Dubai Healthcare City design code has various stipulations for massing, towers, arches, pergolas, materials and colours, etc. It attempts to fuse the near-universally adored elements of vernacular Mediterreanean with the acquired taste of Middle Eastern symmetry and monumentality – a tricky brief. But hats off to Ellerbe Becket – it got built and is on their website. Share my despair. Here’s some more district cooling plants. You can see them slipping from the undecorated into the decorated.

Here’s one in Qatar gone so completely over to the other side it looks like a Qatari shopping mall.


The UK is not to be left behind. Here’s a UK substation with its workings equally despised and disguised in a style pleasing to the locals. It’s the primary electrical substation by NORD architects (Northern Office for Research & Design, btw) for the London Olympics. I remember the word enigmatic being used to describe it. “Enigmatic my arse!” as they so proudly say ‘up North’. You might find out more on NORD’s site, here. Don’t expect a plan. This is not a building – it is a “beauty skin”.


I prefer this next shot. It shows the building a bit more for what it is. Or does it? Given the blue tanky things in the shot below, how the fuck did they take the shot above?

120705 Aerial shoot over Olympic Park

Who cares anyway? It’s only corporate PR. Meanwhile, mysterious barges have been spotted in Maine and San Francisco. I dearly hope they’re data centres. Just as not every building needs Architecture to validate its existence, not every problem needs a building to solve it.

I like to think data centres are morphing into boats in order to resist the pointless architecturification that would otherwise be their fate.