Co-Habitation Strategies — Scenarios for the Immaterial, Material and Territorial

Ioana Cristina Nan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Considering the global shift towards new sectors, such as digital economies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is an immediate urgency – to be addressed by this research paper – on the relevance of new digital infrastructures, their relationship to the social, community and the environment, both on a global but also on a hyperlocal level. The decline of traditional industrial sectors and rise of new ones has a significant impact on local communities, their environment and fabric — material and immaterial. This succession, from post-industrial to digital, is magnified on island territories and is particularly relevant, in the case of Scotland, to Orkney’s deactivated industrial sites (oil and gas) and the rise of a new sector related to digital infrastructures. Off the coast of Orkney, a remote North Sea archipelago, with a population of 20.000, the world-wide first, fully-submerged data centre was launched in June 2018 by Microsoft.
Data centers, digital infrastructures, AI, Industry 4.0, for all of these the ground is being prepared to be implemented within the Orkney archipelago, this remote territory with a highly specific socio-territorial fabric. In the public debate these trends come in the same package with unlimited enthusiasm, technofetischism and assumptions that the digital — the vaguest term of our century — is by default necessary and positive. According to general belief, architects have to embed these in their architecture, the urban, no questions asked. Using Orkney as a case study, this paper addresses following questions: what does it mean to design digital ecologies and how do these relate to the social, urban and territorial? What does it mean to design for data or the digital revolution, accommodating digital infrastructures? How can architects take the role of ‘digital strategists’, leading debates on future scenarios and developing cohabitation strategies for the digital and the human?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Event16th ANRA Conference: 16th Annual International Conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association - University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Nov 201923 Nov 2019


Conference16th ANRA Conference
Abbreviated titleAHRA
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • data centre
  • digital infrastructures
  • territory
  • Orkney


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