Shane Morgan

Shane Morgan

Brooklyn, NY, US


Thesis: The Co-Location Dilemma: An intersection of Digital and Physical Infrastructures

To investigate and assess the overlap among pieces of critical infrastructure, one must explore the nature of both the physical and digital infrastructures, and most importantly, the physicality of digital infrastructures. This project hosts a data centre, and a computation research laboratory. Datacentres are the physical warehouses of the digital world. They consume vast quantities of power and demand high levels of servicing infrastructure and redundancy systems.

On a global scale it is a node that plugs into a vast matrix of seemingly limitless connections. On a local scale it is a monumental facility, dominating the sparse skyline of the boggy Irish Midlands. To boost the country’s output for quality technological research, a fully capable facility is a necessary starting point.

The aim of this project is to interrogate the nature of the co-location environment: the co-location data facility, the co-location work space, and the intersection between them.

The site plays a crucial role in the realisation of the idea. The bog itself is an industrialised landscape, with its own spectrum of infrastructure to harvest the peat. As there are many bogs throughout the Midlands, a series of optimum conditions were laid out to select the most appropriate location. The parameters included proximity to rail networks, motorway, fibre optic networks, urban centres, sufficient area for replicable building type, and ease of water retention.

The crucial intersection of the above criteria allowed the selection process to be narrowed to the Cúil na Móna Bog, west of Portlaoise, Ireland. This junction is not only part of the physical infrastructure, but helps create the node for a digital infrastructure, highlighting the complex matrix of systems that are overlaid on the landscape.

Recent digital technology has created a huge physical footprint even though our experience of it is entirely virtual. As a result, the physical remnants tend to be obscured from normal experience, both because of their size and because of security concerns. By incorporating these digital behemoths into a more active role in society, they can become highly utilised and versatile pieces of civic equipment.

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Status: School Project
Location: Cul na Mona, Ireland