Taskscape: Explorations of Temporality in Architecture

Amina Rezoug

Published Apr 14, 2021

Taskscape is a concept developed by the anthropologist Tim Ingold, in order to understand the meaning of landscape and recognize its temporality. Architecture mainly deals with the conception of a design and the process of its realization. The architect has a “crystalline conception” of her/his building, as Brand points out the real world is contradictorily fluid which causes a “kink” (1995) between the architect’s idea and the real world. Ingold describes these two situations by building and dwelling perspectives and claims that the “shift from a building perspective to a dwelling perspective bears upon the concept and meaning of architecture”. The “building perspective” adopts the idea that architecture or built environment is conceived first then occupied by people who rely on the belief that “the worlds are made before they are lived in” (Ingold, 2000). This is a common belief that reinforces the rupture between the architect’s idea and the real world. Furthermore, it causes a discontinuity in the perception, context, and relation of the building with its environment and users. Ingold highlights that building is not a program that ends up with an artifact as an output, but “building is a processthat is continually going on, for as long as people dwell in it” (2000). In order to shift our perception to this continuous process, he offers to adopt the dwelling perspective which proposes that in the realization of every form there is a solution to a design problem. “The dwelling perspective might affect our understanding of the similarities and differences between the ways in which people create environments for themselves”. Taskscape is an array of actions people are involved in during their dwelling activity. These actions are the imprints of the temporality of the environment. Architecture in the digital age can no more be restricted by the conception and realization of buildings, it needs to expand and open up to the possibilities and potentialities of its users. While architectural studies and research topics are rushing into all kinds of digital and robotic making processes, how to recognize and learn from taskscape and temporality of a building is an essential aspect. The materiality of design creates the environment in which the people engage with and according to Bourdieu (1977) this is where the perception and cognition of daily life are embedded. The study of the architects Sarah Wigglesworth and Jeremy Till titled “Increasing Disorder in a Dining Table” (Figure 1) documents the use of the table during the meal and trace every motion of each person from a top view. This orthogonal representation demonstrates the messy taskscape of having dinner on a two-dimensional level with the aim to improve dining rooms and setting design.

Representations of space according to Lefebvre (1991) has a very strong relationship with the ideologies behind it. At the same time, he states that the way space is represented has a substantial role in the production of space. Therefore, the kind of representation that embed and track the users' action may lead to an architecture aware and recognizing the lived-in process of its creation.

The Why Factory, chase the dream of a responsive built environment made out of ambient technology. Their projection of an adapting environment responsive is not only to different social interactions of users but the whole city structure and environment (Figure 2). Within this project, they develop Barba a fully adaptive living unit inspired by the 1970’s cartoon Barbapapa. This blobby environment is designed in order to meet all kinds of needs that can be programmed like a computer game. Taskscapes are what shapes the adaptable environment in Barba if you wish to swim it will provide a swimming pool for that task if you wish to sleep the blob will shrink into a cocoon and wrap you. Although this is still a distant dream from our actual living environment, the idea of shaping our environment according to the taskscapes is promising.


Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of A Theory of Practice, trans. R. Nice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brand, S. (1995). How Building Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. New York: Penguin Books.

Ingold, T. (2000). Perception of The Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling, And Skill. London and New York:


Lefebvre, H. (1991). The Production of Space. Oxford and Cambridge: Basil Blackwell.

The Why Factory. Barba, life in a fully adaptable environment. Available at:

http://thewhyfactory.com/news/barba-life-in-a-fully-adaptable-environment/ (Accessed: 16 October 2018)

Wigglesworth, S. and Till, J. Increasing disorder in a dining table. Available at:

http://www.ediblegeography.com/dining-disorder/ (Accessed: 15 October 2018)