architecture, parity, digital, internet, data, energy, security
Architectural Engineering | Architectural History and Criticism | Architectural Technology | Cultural Resource Management and Policy Analysis | Other Architecture
Digital data contributes to an increasingly alienated aspect of our infrastructure. The complex practices of the Internet produce highly specified, engineered objects. Though their forms are ‘optimized,’ their intentions are not: the two primary considerations for the development of the infrastructure of the Internet are energy and security. Each category presents its own deliberations, but both often produce non-architectural, infrastructural elements beyond public visibility. The hidden infrastructure of data storage and mining (the indexing and analysis of data and traffic) produces spaces outside the agency of normative architectural discourse.
The key consideration for the design of the Internet is redundancy, which operates in four ways: the redundancy of storage, the redundancy of energy supply, the redundancy of security, and the redundancy of data flow and connectivity. All data is ‘backed up’ twice, on two separate harddrives somewhere in physical space. All data centers receive multiple power supplies and have their own uninterrupted power supply (UPS). Multiple physical security measures control the physical access to data centers at their exteriors and within their interiors. Multiple routes exist from one node in a network to another node in another network, eliminating the blockage of information from one computer to another.
This thesis challenges the infrastructure of the Internet and its key element, the data center. Whereas the data center is the ultimate node for connectivity (it is where our data is hosted), the formal, ecological, and political implications of its architecture are largely ignored. By addressing the conceptual and material problem of redundancy, architecture can reenter the discourse of data center design, which is currently dominated by engineering principles of ‘efficiency’ and ‘optimization’. More broadly, we can begin to question the architecture of redundancy as a theoretical framework with formal and material implications. The issues of energy and security present a specific problem within a paradigm of redundancy in data storage and connectivity. Moreover, when viewing the data center as the machine (not just its components), one must consider another discourse: closed ecological systems within the larger framework of cybernetics. Though the data center may the telos of this project, the question remains: what is a homeostatic architecture, where building, machine, and organism coalesce into one? 4
Hasan, Hamza, "Parity" (2015). Architecture Senior Theses. Paper 372.
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