The Sydney Processing Centre was awarded in 3 categories at the 2017 Australian Institute of Architects NSW Architecture Awards, including Commercial Architecture, Interior Architecture and Sustainable Architecture. In the judges’ words, from the AIA NSW Awards publication: Despite our expectation that data processing is reliable and ever-present, it is unlikely that many would consider what physical infrastructure supports this facility, let alone that architecture could play a positive and meaningful role in such an environment. The Sydney Processing Centre is a showcase for architectural innovation challenging conventional engineering wisdom: transforming inefficient, generic industry standards into a highly sustainable and robust facility, which is both excellent to work in and simple to operate and maintain.
By reconsidering technical requirements from first principles, the architects have succeeded in creating a new benchmark for data processing centres. They were closely involved in every aspect of the project, from planning the layout of the racks and cooling equipment, to the coordination of colour coding for major plant and service pathways. In refurbished workspaces, timber is used as an overlay, softening but not smothering the brutalist concrete aesthetic of the original structure. Within the server rooms, the innovative use of polycarbonate panels to direct airflow and reduce fan speeds dramatically reduces energy consumption whilst improving access to equipment. The Sydney Processing Centre demonstrates that retro-fitting existing data centres is not only possible, but that it can be done in a way that also enhances the comfort and safety of those who work within them.