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How A Steel-Framed Building Can Speed A Data Revolution

Of all the places where you might see a steel framed building, an industrial estate is one of the most common. Quick and easy to build and not requiring the creature comforts of the typical office (and still less a residential building), it is an obvious and affordable solution when a factory or warehouse needs to be erected quickly.

However, one such building at an industrial estate in Stockport will have a somewhat different use.

Stockport Council is expected to grant planning permission soon for the construction of a £350 million data centre at the Kenwood Point industrial estate in Reddish. Data storage firm Kao has made the application, with the proposed building set to be constructed as a basic steel building with several specific enhancements to fulfil its particular purpose.

Among these are composite and main screen metal wall systems, perforated panels, gantry louvres and a glazed curtain wall system. In various ways they are designed to provide security and isolation of the data equipment inside, cooling facilities, waterproofing and lots of natural light, as well as shielding nearby homes from the noise.

All that makes it somewhat different from any typical steel frame building; not least the old warehouse that currently stands on the site and will be removed if the plan gets the green light.

The significance of this particular building, however, stretches way beyond the practicalities of its design. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, vice president of marketing at Kao Data Adam Nethersole said the site was not chosen by accident.

Highlighting the fact that most of the data storage facilities in the UK are in London and Slough, he said the company had carefully chosen Greater Manchester as a suitable area to build the centre, being “the UK’s most viable, next-tier data centre and technology hub” outside London.

Mr Nethersole added: “The future of sustainable, high performance infrastructure lies within the city boundaries of one of the UK’s most innovative, dynamic and rapidly evolving urban areas”.

Technically, the site is just outside the boundary of the city of Manchester, but it is central enough to be able to access the large, skilled workforce Mr Nethersole said is being developed in the city region, as well as capitalising on the vast increase in gigabit broadband connectivity of the area in recent years to 85 per cent.

What is significant about this is that, as more data is produced and stored in the cloud, more vendors will need to find places to store their data servers. That means more data centres will be required across the UK.

Mr Nethersole explained: “Data centres have become mission-critical national infrastructure. They underpin our digital lives and will become far more common as things progress.”

That means the kind of project - and large steel frame building - being proposed for the site in Stockport will be needed many more times across the country.

Greater Manchester may get its fair share of them, but just as important as geographical spread and ‘levelling up’ considerations will be the capacity to erect such buildings quickly to meet the UK’s growing digital storage needs.


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