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Old Gas Tower to Become Futuristic Data Center

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The exterior of the Stockholm Gasometer, which was built in 1893. Swedish ISP and hosting provider Bahnhof hopes to convert the building into a data center. (Photo: Bahnhof)

In one of the more interesting retrofit projects we’ve seen, a Swedish ISP is planning to convert a huge former natural gas holding tank into a five-story data center. The developer is Bahnhof, which has gained notice for its unusual data center designs, including the “James Bond Villain” data center in a former nuclear bunker and a modular unit designed to look like a space station.

This time Bahnhof plans to rehab one of Stockholm’s huge gasometers – a towering building designed to store gas –  and turn it into a five-story data center housing thousands of servers.  The gasometer project is one of two new data centers planned by Bahnhof, both of which will capture waste heat from servers for use in district heating systems that will provide energy for homes and offices.

The second project, known as Nimrod, will be built on the site of one of the plants feeding Stockholm’s district heating and cooling system. The existing building is operated by Fortum, a large energy company in Stockholm.

“Fortum let us construct a data center on top of Europe’s most powerful heat pumps for a direct transfer of heat into their system,” said Jon Karlung, the CEO of Bahnhof, whose love of futuristic design has informed the company’s facilities. “Why vent the energy out?”

Karlung says these projects are envisioned as data centers for large IT companies, and that Bahnhof is in talks with a large US company about one of the sites. “There is really a substantial interest,” said Karlung. “The concept works for anybody that doesn’t want to ventilate out money in thin air. Our role is to build and provide the concept. We do this as part of our business. We are also a hosting provider, but this is pure design and construction.”

The Gasometer

The gasometer is a cylindrical building erected in 1893, constructed with red bricks and enclosed by a spectacular wood and steel ceiling structure as ceiling, which Bahnhof says contributes to the “sacral character of the space.” Here’s a look at the building’s interior:

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Bahnhof has commissioned two designs for the gasometer site. One is from Albert France-Lanord, the designer of Pionen White Mountain, Bahnhof’s stylized high-tech underground fortress 100 feet beneath Stockholm.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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