Visiting James Bond’s data centre in a nuclear bunker

Back in March, I had the honour of visiting Pionen, a data centre set in a former nuclear bunker. Yes… you heard that right!
You would never imagine what’s hiding in the rocks when you’re standing outside on a random street in Södermalm…

No problem if you’re a total nitwit when it comes to these things, so am I! 🙂
An example – when you’re surfing on Google, somewhere in this world is actually a geographical point from where the information is flowing! This is a datacenter, a place that shelters companies’ IT infrastructure so that it doesn’t collapse under external influences. I guess a bunker doesn’t sound too bad for that right?
This one was created during the Cold War in protection of nuclear attacks, but has now found a new purpose as a storage for critical dataservers. During 2010, it even stored the Wikileaks server!

To back up the power supply for the datacenter, two gigantic engines from submarines are installed and awaiting a blackout.

I was actually most excited to go see it because Swedes have a knack for integrating nature into urban spaces (or the other way around?) and this is one of the best examples I’ve come across!
Within the concrete rocks of Stockholm, this bunker is an oasis of little water streams, a huge fish tank and plants that live under simulated daylight.

The impact this must have on the work productivity, I can only imagine. And you can’t work overtime or you run the risk of plants rooting in your ears…

But the actual best thing about the data centre, that I only learned while I was there, is that the heat these servers generate is used to heat up Stockholm’s warm water! The excess heat from the servers is transmitted to water that runs through underground pipelines directly to the houses in Stockholm. That means that because of this district water system, no house in Stockholm needs a boiler, and a lot less electricity is needed to heat up this warm water!

But all the cool things above aside, walking around here just makes you feel like a badass movie star from the latest Bond-film. Not surprisingly, this was the inspiration behind the architectural design.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour around Pionen, and remember…

Call me Bond,

Elke Bond.

I would like to thank Robin for being my sophisticated yet glamorous (not to forget, the very first) photographing Bond boy, and Jon for giving us your time and hosting us.

Elke

A Belgian student at Stockholm University, studying a Msc in Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development. Contact me at elke.studyinsweden(at)gmail.com
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