Manni Group Design Award 2022: advanced dry technologies for data centre architecture

YACademy & competitions

Manni Group Design Award 2022: advanced dry technologies for data centre architecture

20 Dec, 2022


This is the goal behind the ideas of the Manni Group Design Award 2022: DATA LANDSCAPE invites young designers from around the world to redevelop a former military bunker in the mountains of Lessinia, near the city of Verona, into a state-of-the-art data centre.

By their very nature, these massive data management infrastructures are highly energy-intensive. Participants in the contest are therefore asked to apply modern dry construction systems to create an iconic and energy-efficient piece of architecture, immersed in the landscape of the Monti Lessini Natural Park.

What's more, the contest invites people to design an entire ecosystem that originates from the data centre to develop technology, education, or even community services hubs that take advantage of its proximity. An example given by recent international experiments, such as The Sparkle by Snøhetta, is the re-use of heat generated by data centre operations to heat cultural or sports facilities.


Data centre design principles

The following principles should be considered in the design:

  • Safety - Data centres must be facilities whose accesses are easily verifiable and boundaries easily circumscribed in relation to the context. The military character of the area supports such a need: new interventions should therefore be aligned with a rational and isolatable organisation of the data centre space.
  • Energy demand - Data centres are extremely energy-hungry facilities, so every possible strategy for offsetting their activities through sustainable energy generation strategies should be defined. 
  • Cooling - A major issue in the data centre is the dispersion of the heat generated by the activity of server circuits; using heat as a resource to support other activities that need it is a good suggestion, as is the use of design strategies capable of better controlling the temperature of environments (underground structures or green roofs).
  • Redundancy - The level of reliability of a data centre is indicated by its ability to deliver a non-stop service. The more the data centre is equipped with redundant - i.e. alternative - systems to guarantee service in the event of maintenance or malfunctioning, the more reliable and competitive it will be on the market.


Manni Group technologies for off-site construction

When designing the data centre, great emphasis is placed on the project’s sustainability, both in the construction phase and during its useful life.

Off-site construction makes it possible to build and pre-assemble most of the components directly during production, thereby limiting the actual work time on site and the related costs. For Manni Group, this approach results in a complete system that combines steel components for the structural part with sandwich panels for the envelope.

Dry steel construction significantly reduces environmental impact, as unlike traditional construction, it does not use water, but rather uses recycled and recyclable materials that improve the building's energy performance. The latter becomes particularly important in the design of temperature-controlled environments such as data centres, where it is crucial to ensure excellent thermal insulation to optimise server cooling and manage heat dispersion in the most efficient way.

For years, Manni Group has been working to develop high-performance solutions for off-site architecture. Three of the Group’s companies are involved in the Manni Group Design Award:

  • Manni Sipre – which produces semi-finished steel structural elements
  • Isopan - which focuses on the production of insulation envelope design solutions
  • Manni Green Tech - specialising in Light Steel Frame constructions, it takes care of the engineering part of dry construction projects.


MGDA22 partners

Once again this year, the Manni Group Design Award counts on the prestigious partnership of the world's most important players in the building and IT infrastructure design sector.

Main Sponsor: BASF

As in the previous edition of the contest dedicated to the Ghana Innovation Farm, the MGDA's main international Sponsor this year is BASF, one of the world's leading chemical companies. This multinational company, established in 1865 in Germany, has production facilities in Europe, Asia and the Americas, employing more than 110,000 people in six sectors: Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions.

The design solution which BASF is involved for in the competition is the Isopan Isofrozen panel, the use of which is suggested to win the BASF GOLD Mention for temperature-controlled environments. Lorenzo Bottinelli, Managing Director and Vice President of BASF Italia, is on the contest's international jury panel and will be called upon to choose the most innovative projects.


Sponsors: ROCKWOOL and Arvedi Tubi Acciaio

The following will be participating as Sponsors:

ROCKWOOL - a Danish group that provides rock wool solutions for construction. The rockwool insulating panels developed from the collaboration between ROCKWOOL and Isopan offer excellent fire resistance performance.

Arvedi Tubi Acciaio S.p.A. – Storica azienda di Cremona di produzione di tubi saldati per applicazioni speciali, è leader di mercato nei settori automotive, applicazioni meccaniche, trasmissione del calore e apparecchi a pressione, piping, costruzioni industriali e civili. Il suo impegno per l’ambiente è testimoniato dal costante monitoraggio delle emissioni e dal rigoroso rispetto delle norme internazionali.



In addition to the Sponsors, the Manni Group Design Award 2022 counts on the authoritative patronage of three entities, starting with the municipality of Sant'Anna d'Alfaedo, in whose area the former NATO military base that is the subject of the competition is located. A mountain village of about 2,500 inhabitants, Sant'Anna d'Alfaedo is located on the border between Valpolicella and Lessinia to the north-west of Verona. Representing the municipality in the international jury is Samuele Tommasi, councillor with responsibility for tourism and mining.

UNICMI (National Union of Metal Construction, Envelope and Door and Window Industries), through its 12 Divisions, represents around 22,000 Italian companies involved in the building envelope and metal construction market. UNICMI is actively present in 7 Commissions and 41 UNI Working Groups specific to its field of action, in Ministerial and Inter-Ministerial Commissions as well as in ENEA Commissions, in 20 CEN Working Groups and in commissions for the processing of European Union Directives related to all building envelope products.

DatacenterDynamics is a global B2B events and media company, which has been providing information and networking since 1998 to help professionals guiding the field of IT infrastructure, specifically data centres, make the best strategic and operational decisions. DCD publishes news, magazine features and podcasts on the most debated topics in the industry. 


Design schedule and GOLD Mention

The prize money foresees, other than the winners, the assignment of 4 GOLD Mentions related to the use of technologies presented in the competition schedule on 4 possible design nodes, which will be at the centre of the required 1:20 scale detail.

NODE 1 - Structure

For this node, we suggest using Manni Sipre structural steel elements or Light Steel Frame elements by Manni Green Tech, which can be worthy of the “Manni Sipre and Manni Green Tech” GOLD Mention.


Steel is known for offering many advantages in the field of architecture, such as:

  • versatility of application and freedom of expression
  • full recyclability without losing any of its original properties
  • maximisation of interior spaces.


NODE 2 – Wall solutions | Isopan ADDMIRA

Choosing systems from the ADDMIRA range is recommended to obtain the Isopan 'ADDMIRA Façade' GOLD Mention.

In particular, Isopan ADDVision guarantees:

  • exceptional UV performance and corrosion resistance
  • broad choice of colours.

Isopan ADDWind, on the other hand, is a ventilated façade system consisting of components and layers mechanically fixed to the building. ADDWind ensures: 

  • a high aesthetic value of the envelope
  • high thermal performance.


NODE 3 – Flat roof

Isopan Isodeck PVSteel and Isopan GreenROOF are both suggested to achieve the “Flat Roof Solutions” GOLD Mention.

Specifically, Isopan Isodeck PVSteel:

  • significantly reduces the ‘heat island’ effect thanks to Cool Roof systems, obtaining an improvement of the albedo and thermal insulation
  • reduces energy consumption
  • lowers CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

Conversely, the green roof cover solution GreenROOF, which consists in fitting the green roof system by Daku Italia onto a flat roof made from sandwich panels, offers:

  • bioclimatic improvement
  • efficient management of rainwater
  • improved soundproofing
  • trapping of particulates
  • extends the usable surfaces
  • increased energy production of solar panels thanks to its cooling effect.


NODE 4 - Isolation walls

The use of Isopan Isofrozen for temperature-controlled environments is suggested to obtain the 'BASF' GOLD Mention.

This sandwich panel is particularly suitable for its:

  • excellent thermal performance
  • maximum hygiene
  • B-s1,d0 fire reaction certification.




To participate in the Data Landscape contest:

Manni Group Design Award Prize Money: €20,000

Participation: individuals or teams of architects of any nationality, as long as at least one member is under 35.

“Early bird” deadline: 18/12/2022

Deadline for sending in projects: 15/02/2023

More info:

For further information or request for support, contact YAC at


Written by

Raffaele Bulgarelli - Digital Marketing Expert at Manni Group
Raffaele Bulgarelli - Digital Marketing Expert at Manni Group

Raffaele, Digital Marketing Expert of Manni Group, works in synergy with Isopan, gaining insight into the technical world of sandwich panels and keeping pace with the latest trends in the building industry. Thanks to his training in Architecture, he has a keen eye for online topics and activities involving designers and architects.

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