An Information Cistern for the 21st Century
Big data underpins much of contemporary research, advanced knowledge in social and natural sciences and our daily communications. High-security, natural disaster resilience, emergency management, extreme energy consumption and fragility of a stable climatization drive the design parameters. As a national center, UHeM’s commitment to create a place that celebrates the futures of ‘big data’ with a significant outreach program has motivated the design and construction team. It will be an information cistern and a social-hub for multi-disciplinary research. The center will operate a café, a discussion auditorium, scientific presentation rooms, project centric research, labs, a virtual reality cave and outreach programs to engage the K12 schools. The result is two buildings interlocking: a massive reinforced concrete structure deeply emerged in the earth and a light mass reaching out to the campus.
Construction methods where predetermined by requirements of security and the server room including a suspended floor with an accessible raised floor for the 1,000+ m2 server room. UHeM’s team wanted an earthen quality to the façade and therefore colored concrete, a first in the region, was applied like a liquid massive stone. Creating a massive natural earthen structure to secure the facility with a volumetric lantern to invite light, openness, interior gardens and color deep into the core of the facility and animate the depths of the colored surface. The exterior invites curiosity about the national institute while the experience of the interior captures the values of UHeM’s highly social values and security requirements. Taking advantage of the subtle terrain, the building’s main server room mass is nestled into the landscape for both security and thermal value to temper the cooling loads of the server room. The façade at this time remains rather naked as the design ads a foreground of pine trees whose complementary coloring will complete the composition. The lighter social building volume is a composition of colored glass creating pixilated texture of the Istanbul inner-city pine forests. The glass structure reaches out to the campus as a cubical lantern to promote it as a place that welcomes multi-disciplinary research, social-life and engage the broad community requiring ‘big data’ for their research. The lantern space penetrates deep into the core of the high-security volume bringing natural light, interior gardens and mitigates between the operations, administration, project groups and academic programs.