Time Pyramid

A critical-design installation that provokes reflection: Modern urban environment is alienating and socially isolating.

ROLE: UX Researcher, UX Designer

Frame analysis
Affinity diagram

Image from: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/blurred-people-walking_946243.htm#page=1&query=busy%20street&position=1


This project was completed as an assignment of the “design thinking” course when I was doing Interaction Design Master’s Program at UQ.

A physical, interactive installation was supposed to be designed and implemented, and it should provoke reflection with a specific focus on “Modern urban environment is alienating and socially isolating”.


Even though it is known that the modern urban environment is alienating and socially isolating, there are several aspects addressing this problem. We conducted various research in order to dive into that.

Literature review

We started to investigate in the theme “Modern urban environment is alienating and socially isolating” to understand better of such an area and existing installations.

Site survey

On campus of UQ, we observed people on four sites, where they interacted and behaved at different time of the day, in order to know the site we were going to deploy the installation.


Interview was conducted to collect insights from potential users. 13 participants talked about different aspects of their life and sentiments, describing experience around campus and activities they carried out.

“Facebook is like empty calories”

– Interviewee

“Technology makes up for the restrictions of the environment.”

– Interviewee

Frame Analysis


Time, social media, lack of physical interaction with people around us are three topics that were the most frequently mentioned regarding the modern urban environment.

Time has become the one commodity in modern urban life that we value, and yet we are all short of. Time isolates us from the people we really want to be with, and the things we most value.



A design workshop was run to evaluate generated concepts. Six participants were invited to the workshop, reading through concept cards pinned up on a wall, providing feedback, and voice their opinions and concerns regarding all of them, and they were asked to arrange concept cards to create concept maps.


Based on participants’ feedback, concept cards were refined and improved. Furthermore, we created an evaluation framework including the following criteria to evaluate iterated concepts.

  • Provokes reflection
  • Interactive
  • Related to the chosen site
  • Relevant to theme
  • Original


Considering the performance of the concepts over all the evaluation processes and the framework, we decided to go forward with the concept which passed all the criteria and fared well with the previous round of evaluation which was the Time Pyramid.

Time Pyramid


To provoke reflection, raise awareness, and spark debate on the way we use our time in modern society, and whether this use of time is consistent with our values.


Participants need to pick at least four aspects of their life they value, write them on the cards, and place the stickers on the pyramid based on time spent on them


The installation was set and evaluated by observing users’ interaction, interviewing active participators after their interaction.

Over the period of deployment at chosen site, there were 17 people who interacted with it, while several others stopped to observe the installation without any active interaction. Some others had quick glances while walking past the installation.

Result showed that the installation did provoke people’s reflection on distribution of time consumption. Some people mentioned they spend fewer time with their family than works.

Obtain distinction+ mark for this project.


Psychology is an important element in design. People mentioned in the interview that they were attracted by bright colours used in Time pyramid, so they would like to have a look. Even though we didn’t mean to draw people’s attention by these colours, it eventually helped with people’s engagement. Therefore, function is not the only key element for success of a design, appearance plays a part.