Principal Investigator Dr. Simone Shu-Yeng Chung and Research Assistant Mary Ann Ng presented a co-authored paper ‘Life in the Fourth’ at the 10th Architectural Research Symposium in Finland. The conference was held at the Aalto University, Otaniemi, Espoo on the 26 – 27 October 2018.


In the current Fourth Industrial Revolution, the merging of technologies that underpins this epoch (Schwab 2016) has irrevocably altered our notions of home, work, travel, placemaking and even human relationships. The integration of digital interfaces in our everyday practices furthermore imbues us with new subjectivities and invites us to consider what it means to be a “four-dimensional human” (Scott 2015). Technological and digital affordances support simultaneous inhabitation of discrete spatial dimensions in both the physical and virtual realms seamlessly. With deference to Bauman (2000), this age in which we live is truly a “liquid” one, where the speed and scale of travel, transmission of information and social networks are globally expansive. More crucially, this new condition dominates the formation of individual construals, by how privacy lines are drawn, sense of ownership of territory and possessions, consumption and behaviour patterns, live-work culture, career trajectory and nurturement of relationships online and vis-à-vis.

This paper adopts the spatiality paradigm outlined by Hillier (2008) which places society first in attempts to understand our environment holistically, viewing it as the product of the spatial dimensions of social processes and societal influences, including the digital community’s. Through in-depth interviews with adept global nomads who embrace a fluidly mobile cum multi-dimensional lifestyle and dynamic mapping of their spatial narratives, initial findings reveal that the actual spatial demands in one’s lived space are now directly affected by an individual’s degree of digital dependency. Even at this level of diffusion, it is already evident that this enhanced performativity not only envalues people’s quality of life but also infuses it with multi-layered meaning. The research aims to formulate a new human-centred spatial rubric inscribed with the universal values shared by cosmopolitan individuals who subscribe to this contemporary mode of living that concurrently reflects the increasing dilution of conceptual spatial divides.

Bauman, Z. (2001). Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Hillier, B. (2008). Space and Spatiality: What the Built Environment Needs for Social Theory. Building Research and Information, 36 (3), pp.216-230.

Schwab, K. (2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Geneva: World Economic Forum.

Scott, L. (2015). The Four-dimensional Human: Ways of Being in the Digital World. London: William Heinemann.