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Dive into the Cloud with the new MRS3 data centre!

7100m² of data storage in the heart of Marseille’s port district, with 5.5 metre-thick walls built for a German bunker in 1943: welcome to MRS3, a cutting-edge data centre whose initial construction phase has just been completed by Bouygues Energies & Services and Bouygues Bâtiment Sud-Est on behalf of Interxion, a European giant in the data centre sector. Explanations.

Designing, building and bringing online one of the most powerful data centres in France: this was the challenge successfully achieved on 1 July by the joint teams from Bouygues Energies & Services and Bouygues Bâtiment Sud-Est, as they delivered phase 1 of MRS3. This achievement confirms the city of Marseille’s leading role in the global submarine cables industry: it is currently the world’s 9th-biggest Internet hub, connecting 4.5 billion users across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

A former submarine base overhauled and transformed into a data centre

Recognisable by its concrete walls overlaid with a facade of rust-coloured Corten steel plaques (see inlay), MRS3 came into being in a former German U-boat base from the Second World War, which was never completed but whose structure remains practically indestructible. 

Respecting the historical character of the building, it hosts Interxion's Marseilles offices and a massive data centre.

The building is 98.9% cooled by electricity generated from renewable sources ("rivercooling") from the old mines of Gardanne (13) and is also cutting-edge in terms of energy savings.

MRS3 Data Centre

A complex and multi-faceted project 

Phase 1 of this unusual project was successfully completed by a multi-disciplinary team, which at times numbered no less than 120 employees from Bouygues Energies & Services and Bouygues Bâtiment Sud-Est. To be exact, the design, analysis, BIM, planning and purchasing were overseen by the Grands Projects Division of BYES, while the teams from BYES Zone Géographique France handled the electrical and air conditioning installation. Bouygues Bâtiment Sud-Est carried out the construction and structural renovations, urban engineering, and building work and joinery.

This atypical construction project was also notable for its technical and organisational complexity. In terms of structural renovations, “the technical complexity arose from having to create openings and shafts in concrete walls and slabs that were 2m and 3 m thick, and from an organisational point of view it was about keeping to the very strict phasing schedule necessary to manage coactivity in confined areas,” explained Arnaud Manzoni, BBSE project manager. For BYES, “the various performance and resilience tests, which are very technical and difficult to carry out but standard for a data centre, were made even more complicated given the timing, with the phase 1 tests having started just before the lockdown and continuing until delivery, even as the final construction and snagging processes were going on. Throughout this period, the mobilisation from the BBSE and BYES teams was exemplary,” added Brice Fourney, Head of DGP.

MRS3 Data Centre building

A BIM process worthy of ‘Silver BIM’ status 

MRS3 was also characterised by its advanced use of BIM technology (level 3 BIM processes), both during the design phase with the implementation of a dedicated organisational structure uniting all the project partners, and during the construction phase with all construction supervisors using the digital template on a daily basis. Having been awarded ‘Silver BIM’ status in 2019 by the Moniteur et les Cahiers Techniques du Bâtiment, this level 3 process enabled the production of a “digital twin” of the MRS3 building, delivered alongside the completed construction project. 

However, it was not possible to unveil the building in optimal sanitary conditions, so our client Interxion organised a virtual tour of the building when it went into operation in July of this year. 

Work on the construction site (phases 2 and 3) is continuing, and the final handover is scheduled for 2021.

Images used copyright photos : SIGRUN SAUERZAPFE AKA SIGGI

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