AGILULFO - Data Infrastructure, il Cavaliere Inesistente

Videotelephony, connected watch, internet of things, automated vehicles, music and film

streaming, e-commerce, e-banking, high frequency trading, crypto mining etc..

Since the emergence of the dot-com the virtual has relentlessly pervaded each sphere of contemporary life. It has become a place where the social, the cultural, the financial and the political intersect. While an increasing portion of the present mutates in 1 and 0, a new geography is silently growing in the physical world.

Yet, if the services provided by computers and smartphones are well embedded in our everyday life, most of the pervasive machinery acting behind these screens remains a mystery. It is imprisoned in anonymous, banal and impermeable buildings, preventing one to recognise the physical network on which they are constructed, the spatial consequences of such deployment, its energetical costs and impact on the environment.

A tremendous gap divides the virtual from its physicality. In invading the no man's land, looking for places to occupy within the digital landscape, architecture may subvert this segregation. By means of a Détournement, Herdern, as an infrastructural node, is to be transformed into a stand. A stand for the computerised world.

The project speculates on a scenario in which the city of Zurich, as landowner of Engrosmarkt, grants a plot on the roof of the building for the construction of a public data centre. Implemented as an extension of Herdern logistics, the infrastructure is intended to provide citizens with the tool to reclaim data sovereignty. A breach is opened, the invisible network finds an entry point to expose itself to daylight, within the city.

Confronted to such imperatives for repetition, efficiency and density, architecture may simply contribute in providing visibility to the supposedly intangible. Détournement of existing infrastructure, of a political project on data sovereignty and of the technical apparatus of data centres, ar e steps towards the mise en scène of the digital within the city.