The European Comission and the Mies van der Rohe Foundation have announced the projects nominated in each country for the 2015 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award, with over 420 nominees from the 27 different countries participating in the European Union’s Cultural Programme. It is expected that the 80.000€ prize winner finalist shortlist will be announced briefly.
One of the Portuguese nominees has been Carrilho da Graça’s Data Center for Portugal Telecom, situated in Covilhã. The building is a large cube-like structure in a natural context, hosting a data processing center and offices.
Located on a privileged mound that stands out amidst the landscape of the valley of Covilhã, the data center is a 55m-side cube covered by aluminum-based plaques. Inside it we can find six 500 square meter halls where the servers are kept.
Because of the great amount of heat produced inside the building, the project’s biggest challenge was managing the constant refrigeration of large amounts of air. This was achieved thanks to a free cooling system that allowes over a 40% energy saving regarding the average energy consumption in Portugal. In fact, the building has been granted a LEED Gold certificate for the main building, and LEED Platinum for the office buildings. These offices are a low, single-storey building surrounding the large cube, separated by a shallow pool of water intended not only to cool the atmosphere on warm weather months, but also to create a visual effect on the whole architectural complex, duplicating the vision of the sky on the ground.
The Portugal Telecom Data Center was inaugurated on Spetember 2013 and its construction cost about 90 million euros. It is expected that a second, third and fourth phase will be completed with the construction of three identical cubes more.
Portuguese architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça lead his own studio, JLCG, since 1977. He works in Lisbon, where he has also been professor in the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Lisbon, in the Autonous University of Lisbon and also in the University of Évora. He is the author of recent award-winning projects such as the Pedestrian Bridge in Covilha, of the Extension and Modernization of the German School in Lisbon.
Cover image via Portugal Telecom.