Data Bunkers: A Reference List
This page provides a list of data centres based in underground locations. Many are currently active data centres, others have been decommissioned and left derelict. This list is a work in progress and is necessarily incomplete. It was originally a personal reference source for my ongoing research on bunkered data centres. I have used it to try and keep track of the turbulent, ever-changing and fragile market for subterranean data storage. The history of the data centre industry is a history of boom and bust which has, over the years, left many data centres vacant, both above and below ground. Digital capitalism is defined by volatile markets, financial speculation, media and marketing performances, shifting corporate strategies and ever-accelerating cycles of technological obsolescence. As such, the data centre landscape is defined by mergers and acquisitions, as well constant re-brandings, closures and relocations. This often makes it difficult to keep up with which companies own which data centres, with these buildings changing hands on a reasonably regular basis. I thought I would share this list in case it is of use to others with an interest in bunkered data centres. The list is pieced together with a range of linked sources and I will continue to update it as and when I have the time. If there is a bunkered data centre that you know of that I haven’t listed here, or if some information needs to be updated, please let me know and I can update the list.
Suggested citation: Taylor, A.R.E. 2021. Data Bunkers: A Reference List. Available at: https://www.digitalruins.net/data-bunkers/
Scaleway DC4 (active) – In September 2012, the web hosting company Online.net bought an anti-atomic fallout shelter in Paris and spent several years converting it into a data centre. From 2018 onwards, Online.net was gradually rebranded as Scaleway.
The Bunker (active) – In 1999, the London-based web hosting company ALD Ltd acquired a former Ministry of Defence nuclear bunker near Sandwich (Kent). In 2004 the Bunker Secure Hosting Ltd. acquired the assets of ALD. That same year, The Bunker Secure Hosting acquired a lease on another bunker located near Newbury (Berkshire). The Bunker was acquired by The CyberFort group in July 2017.
Smartbunker (inactive) – In 2003, an ex-Ministry of Defence bunker in Skendleby (Lincolnshire) was repurposed as a data centre by Centrinet Limited, a data security company specialising in voice and data network management, headquartered in Lincoln (Kelly Smith was the owner and managing director of Centrinet). The 7-acre underground site offered 30,000 Square feet of operational space. Centrinet branded the facility as the ‘Smartbunker’ and developed a wind-based zero-carbon energy strategy. SmartBunker claimed it was the first UK facility with no carbon emissions. On the 11 July 2011, Centrinet Ltd was acquired by the telecoms company GCI Telecom Group Ltd, which traded as Edge Telecom and IPI. In 2021, the GCI was rebranded as Nasstar.
Bogons Ltd (active) – In 2014, the Chepstow-based ISP Bogons purchased the Cultybraggan nuclear bunker, located near Comrie in Perth and Kinross, Scotland (for the price of £150,000). After redevelopments they began to bring the site online in 2017. Completed towards the end of the Cold War, in 1990, the bunker was built to house Scottish Office staff in the event of a nuclear attack. It had previously been bought by the Comrie Development Trust in 2007.
Green Mountain’s DC1-Stavanger (active) – Claiming to be ‘the most secure datacenter in Scandinavia’, DC1-Stavanger is operated by the Norwegian-based data centre service provider Green Mountain. Located inside a former NATO ammunition storage facility, the mountain hall data centre offers 230,000 square feet of space. A video of the site is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYrvRMWiZCA
Lefdal Mine Data Center (active) – Opened in 2017, Lefdal Mine Datacenter is a Tier III data centre with 75 underground data halls, located in a former olivine mine in Måløy, Norway. It runs on renewable hydroelectric power, with zero CO₂ emissions. The initial project to convert the mine into a data centre had begun in 2008, led by the regional hosting company LocalHost. In 2020, and in 2021 Lefdal Mine secured €50 million to expand the facility. Columbia Threadneedle European Sustainable Infrastructure Fund (ESIF) took a majority stake in LMD 2020. German Edge Cloud GmbH & CO KG, part of Friedhelm Loh Group, also has a stake.
Pionen – In 2008, the Swedish telecommunications operator Bahnhof opened a data centre inside a former civil defence bunker known as Pionen, located beneath the White Mountains park area in Stockholm. Excess heat produced by the servers is recycled into the local district heating network. This data centre has received extensive media attention due to its sci-fi aesthetic.
Equinix HE2 (inactive) – In 2011, the IT services operator Acedemica (which had been active since 1996) and the utility provider Helsingen Energia (now ‘Helen Oy’) purchased a bunker beneath Helsinki. It used cold sea water in its cooling system, while the waste heat produced by the servers was piped via a heat pump into the district heating network to heat Helsinki buildings and the residents’ domestic hot water. In November 2012, the European colocation data centre provider TelecityGroup acquired Academica. Telecity was acquired by the multinational colocation provider Equinix in January 2016 who named the bunkered data centre ‘HE2’. In 2019 the site was decommissioned.
The Nuclear Bunker (inactive) – The IT company Bunkeris.lt purchased a former Soviet bunker in Vilnius. The facility was converted into a data centre that went into liquidation.
Website (inactive): https://thenuclearbunker.com
Website (inactive): https://nuclearbunker.lt
Colocall LLC (active) – In early 2010, Colocall purchased a former Soviet bunker in Kiev and repurposed the facility as a data centre. The bunker was rebuilt and fully renovated.
Data Center Riga DC2 (active) – Since 2009, the European cloud and colocation specialist DEAC has operated a Soviet army command bunker in the Grizinkalns neighbourhood in Riga. The bunker is buried 12 metres under the ground and covered by a 1.5-metre-thick lead dome. It contains roughly 80 racks. The underground data center is designed in compliance with the EN 50600 Class 2 safety standard. In 2017 they started the development of a new €10m bunker. This facility opened in 2018 and contrains roughly 400 racks.
Tencent’s bunker-style facility in Guizhou, China (active) – In 2018, the Chinese multinational technology conglomerate Tencent began constructing a bunker-style data centre in Guizhou, a mountainous province in southwest China.