The Time Bureau 2014

Created for STATE Experience Science Festival 2014 “STATE OF TIME” by the STATE interactives team (Lucy Patterson, Esther Masemann, Isabelle Prugger).

The time bureau is an interactive experience based on the work of US psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo. Although he is probably most famous for his ‘Stanford Prison Experiment‘ in the 1970s, his more recent work centers on understanding how we relate to time – whether we tend to focus on the past, present, or future – and how this affects our choices and decisions, and ultimately our happiness. To assess ‘time perspective’, Zimbardo and his colleagues developed a standardised test – the Zimbardo Time Perspective Index (ZTPI) – which is publicly available and has been widely used in studies around the world.

ZTPI Time Characters
illustrations: Irene Fernández Arcas

The time bureau is an interactive experience that brings the work of Prof Zimbardo and his colleagues playfully to life as a lifestyle consultancy service. A visit to the ‘Time Consultant’ will help you identify your individual time perspective, and offer lifestyle optimization suggestions for a happier, healthier life.


Time Bureau at STATE Experience Science Festival 2014
photos © STATE Festival / Robert Felgentreu

The experience took the form of a visit to the STATE Festival ‘Time Bureau’. This was located in the former offices of the Alte Münze – polystyrene ceiling tiles, and a real Bürgeramt / local authority office feeling, which we took as our inspiration for stying the space. Visitors were greeted at reception, and given a number to await their turn, at which point they were shown through to the ‘Time Consultant’ in his office. The Time Consultant then talked the visitor through a series of statement one-on-one, based on the short version of the ZTPI, asking them to state to what extent they thought each statements applied to them and their life (approx 5mins). Their final scores were delivered to them in a booklet which described the research behind the experience, and how their scores related to the North American average and a hypothetical ideal. On leaving the consultant’s office the receptionists invited visitors to ask any questions they might have about their experience.

An interface for delivery of the ZTPI test was created using a simple command line interface, written in python and run from a Raspberry Pi on an old school cathode terminal for extra Bürgeramt retro-chic.
developer: Matt Huska



The Time Bureau also temporarily reopened for business for the good people of Bern at…

The Mad Scientist Festival
4th September 2015
Natur Historisches Museum Bern (NHMB)


Further Projects