A US ISP has revealed plans for a new type of data centre that it hopes will get planning permission to be built in a residential area by cleverly disguising it as an ordinary house.

The mock up produced for the project by an architecture firm shows a 36,000 square foot “community-based” data centre in a Minnesota housing development that from the outside looks like a rather large, luxurious home.

As reported by Data Centre Knowledge, much of the working space of the $30 million data centre would be underground with only a modest two-level house structure covering it. Surrounding the site would be executive stone-clad houses sold to ordinary house buyers.

The design even puts the other bane of data centres, the car park, underground, accomodating up to 30 cars.

The benefit to building in such locations is access to cheaper land and lower taxes. It also avoids the need to build data centres in more expensive urban locations or in places that are cheaper but remote from populations.

It could allow data centres to be smaller and more de-centralised against which the opposite argument is that the most energy-efficient data centres will always be larger ones. Resident might be open to the idea if it put them within reach of powerful Internet hubs and the latest distribution technologies.

It’s not the first unusual location for a data centre but it could turn out to be more significant. Data centres have been put inside old nuclear facilities, shipping containers and even former Cold War era underground bunkers, but locating one in a place as ordinary as a housing development could transform sectors of the industry if planning departments don’t block the idea.

On the face of it the idea might appear to have less purchase in a smaller more compact country such as the UK but even here distributing data centre capacity away from large cities might hold some advantages - if the sclerotic planning system allowed it.