I work at the intersection of human-computer interaction and built environment and examine the relationships between technology, cognitive development, play, and design.

How does our physical surrounding shape our cognitive, social, intellectual, physical, perceptual, and emotional growth?

Living between analog and digital, handcrafted and mass-produced, my work explores the ways in which objects and materials mediate and augment experience across contexts and cultures, systems, and scales.

I hold an MA and a PhD from MIT’s Media Lab, and previously studied lighting design at Calarts.


Extended Bio, Publications, CV

Networked Playscapes: redefining the playground
PhD dissertation
Readers: Ethan Zuckermann, Neri Oxman, Edith Ackerman

inside/out: tools for reflective, creative learning

Masters Thesis Readers: Sherry Turkle, Edith Ackerman, Mitch Resnick



Built Environment Journal
Alexandrine Press, UK
When Tech Enhances Play in Nature: ListenTree

for its issue on Natural Playscapes and Outdoor Education. 


🤫  Museum
Mexico City
Creative technologist for an upcoming world-class museum about our most widely used trust system/technology. 

New York City
Awarded the
Human by Design fellowship,
I will examine pre-electric modes of communication and suggest benefits for incorporating some of them into a modern urban environment - for example, creating a network of homing pigeons that connects community gardens.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos

Mexico City
Working on a proposal to revitalize the gardens of this architectural jewel. By invitation. With Pedro Cerisola and Pablo Kobayashi.

Abierto Mexicano de Diseño
Mexico City
Designing a piece for this year´s Utopia themed festival to be installed in front of Palacio de Bellas Artes. With Pedro Cerisola, by invitation.


Design for
Social Innovation
School of Visual Arts
New York City
Teaching Mapping and Visualization Design - really systems thinking.

MEM Industrial
Mexico City
Developed Urania, modular plaything. To be installed at the Central Library of Mexico City.
Monterrey, NL Mexico
Abierto Mexicano
de Diseño
Tecno-Pop Laboratorio Arte Alameda

Mexico City
Developed Iris by invitation, with Pedro Cerisola.
Invited alongside ORU to represnt Mexico.
Experience Fighters
Madrid, Spain
Mexico City
Co-creative director for Playgrounds


Studio Adrien Gardere
Paris, France
Spent a semester working at this world renowned museography studio.

Listentree is part of the festival!
Invited to participate, developed Oráculo with Rozana Montiel.
Edwina Portocarrero is a researcher, producer and designer working at the intersection of art, culture, technology and society.
She obtained her Master’s and Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab where she specialized in the design of tools for creative apperception that harness diversity in levels and vehicles of thought by leveraging ubiquitous computing, network technologies and sensor networks with the social, aesthetic and symbolic qualities of the built environment.
Prior to joining the Media Lab, she attended Calarts’ Lighting Design MFA and Mexico City’s Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia’s Ethnography BA.

Her academic research appears in an array of publications and has been presented at a diversity of conferences, from human-computer interaction and ubiquitous computing to epistemology, art, design, and storytelling. Her work has been exhibited internationally at 2019’s Seoul’s Architectural Biennale, Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura, SXSW, Museo de San Idelfonso, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, MIT Museum, Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico and the Montreal International Documentary Festival among others.

Edwina served as guest project lead of “City as Playground” at Mexico City’s Laboratorio para la Ciudad and was invited as designer in residence at Museo Tamayo’s Education department and at Archivo Arquitectura y Diseño. She is the recipient of MIT’s MISTI Seed Fund, the Bill Mitchell Award and the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Award in the Visual Arts for her Ph.D. dissertation work: Networked Playscapes. She has been the recipient of the FONCA’s Jóvenes Creadores grant and of CONACYT’s Study Abroad Scholarship.
She recently co-founded Super Market, a design and creative technology production and consulting agency working at the intersection of artistic practice, cultural production and social good. Edwina is currently teaching at NYC’s School of Visual Arts’ Design for Social Innovation program.

Dr. Portocarrero’s past lives include sitting still for countless hours while modeling for world renowned artists, slowly hitchhiking from Boston to Nicaragua, learning cooking techniques and teaching basic literacy skills in a Garifuna village in Honduras, assisting in documentary film making in Brazil, and filming countless hours of kids playing soccer in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda.



2017 Networked Playscapes:
Redefining the Playground
E Portocarrero, Ph.D. Dissertation
Readers: Edith Ackermann, Ethan Zuckerman, Neri Oxman
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
School of Architecture and Planning,
Program in Media Arts and Sciences

2011 inside/out: mirrors for reflective, creative thinking
E Portocarrero. S.M. Dissertation
Readers: Sherry Turkle, Edith Ackerman, Mitch Resnick
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Program in Media Arts and Sciences


2015 ListenTree: Audio-haptic Display in the Natural Environment
E Portocarrero, G Dublon, J Paradiso, VM Bove
CHI Interactivity
Seoul, South Korea

2014 Listentree: Audio-haptic Display in the Natural Environment
G Dublon, E Portocarrerro
International Community for Auditory Display (ICAD '14)
New York, NY

2012 Designing Tools for Creative LearningE Portocarrero
Constructionism Conference
Athens, Greece

2011 Pillow-talk: seamless interface for dream priming, recalling and playback
E Portocarrero, D Cranor, V M Bove
Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI’11)
Madeira, Portugal

2011 Calliope: a portable stage for co-creative storytelling
E Portocarrero, Y Wang, VM Bove
International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICID’11) Vancouver, Canada

2010 The Never Ending Storytelling Machine: a platform for creative collaboration using a sketchbook and everyday objects
E Portocarrero, D Robert, S Follmer, M Chung
PaperComp’10 at Ubicomp
Copenhagen, Denmark


2010 The Never-Ending Drawing Machine (NEDM) and Calliope

E Portocarrero, D Robert, M Chung, S Follmer, Y Wang
published in ACM’s Interactions Magazine - New York 18 (6), 8 



2019  Designing for Play
Experience Fighters | Madrid, ES

2018 Aesthetics, Cybernetics and Play

Connecting the Dots | Mexico City

2017 Paradigm Shift Forum

Moderator: Sabine Himmelsbach
Mapping Festival | Geneva, CH

MIT Tech Review’s Innovators Under 35
Keynote | Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador

O’Reilly’s SOLID Conference
Keynote | San Francisco, CA

Creative Thinkers
Advertisement Week | New York City, NY

2014  Rethink Play 
Tecnológico de Monterey | Mexico City, MX

2013  “Inventing Futures”

EMTECH Mexico | Mexico City, MX

2011 TechVisions
Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez | Santiago de Chile

2010 Pillow-Talk: Harnessing Dream Recall
Future of Health Technology Summit
Harvard Faculty Club | Cambridge, MA

2010  Technologies for Creative Learning
HASBRO | Boston, MA


2018 Future City Lab
Ars Electronica + Zero0ne
Seoul, Korea  

2015 Networked Playscapes
Epicentro Festival de Innovación
Guadalajara, MX

2014 Networked Playscapes

MIT India Initiative
Ahmedabad, India

2014 Transformational Design

Tecnológico de Monterrey
Saltillo, MX

2014 Prototyping the Imposible
Laboratorio para la Ciudad 
Mexico City, MX

2013 Networked Playscapes
Universidad Autónoma de Occidente
Cali, Colombia


2017 Networked Playscapes
Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura Mexico City

2016 Numen for Use workshopDomaine de BoisbuchetLessac, France 

2016 Networked Playscapes
Museo Tamayo - Sala Educativa
Mexico City

2015 Urban Play Project Lead
Laboratorio para la Ciudad

Mexico City

2012 Summer at Rober Lepage’s Ex-Machina
La Caserne
Quebec, CA

2011 Rober Wilson “My Friend Su” MIT
Cambridge, MA

2010 Reclamation Project
Hotel Maria Kapel

Horn, NL


2017 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Award
in the Visual Arts
Cambridge, MA


MIT Cambridge, MA

2016 MISTI Seed Fund, MIT & CONACYT
Mexico and Cambridge, MA

2013 Arts Scholar Gran
MIT Cambridge, MA

2013 FONCA Jóvenes Creadores

2012 CONACYT Study Abroad Scholarship


2011 Council for the Arts Grant
MIT Cambridge, MA

2010 Council for the Arts Grant
MIT Cambridge, MA

2010 Mondriaan Foundation
Horn, Netherlands

2008 Ahmanson Grant

California Institute of the Arts
Valencia CA

2008 Interdisciplinary Project Grant

California Institute of the Arts
Valencia CA

2007 Merit Scholarship

California Institute of the Arts
Valencia CA 


The world has become urban, communication untethered and objects have surpassed humans connected to the Internet. We are shaped by the intersection of urbanization and ubiquitous computing. Play too has changed with the advent of new technologies. Where streets were the playground and neighbors were our playmates, we now play mediated, across distance, with people we might never meet. 

Digital or physical, play is an act of creation and appropriation, a respite in a world geared towards consumption, efficiency and technological determinism. Play is something more than children's fun and playgrounds are more than places for play -  physicality, materiality, and commonality, strengthen our experience of the real in the realms of perception, experience, cultural and social interaction. Play is better served when grounded in material form and serves us better when it is free, shared and happens in the public space.

This research project proposes that the advantages of networked play need not be exclusive to the indoors and that playgrounds today may need no real estate, and explores ways in which we can reintroduce play as a tool for integration in the cities-to-be by designing grounds-up, locally informed, networked, hybrid playscapes.

Drawing from research in play, cognitive development, ubiquitous computing, architecture, telepresence, and urban planning, it posits the redesign of playgrounds into Networked Playscapes: grounded in the public space, they take existing urban affordances and add largely invisible technological underpinnings to support networked play.

Space informs play, play informs space. Designed with a broad definition of play in mind, Networked Playscapes provide infrastructure for connection at different scales while centering on ludic interaction across social and geographic divisions. Driven by local idiosyncrasies and physical affordances, Networked Playscapes take the telepresent quality of imaginative play to make congruous use of physical computing embedded in architectural constructs and nature itself.