NETWORKED
PLAYSCAPES 

MIT Media Lab
with:

Laboratorio para la Ciudad 
Museo Tamayo
Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura
CIDI UNAM
Casa Talavera
Café Bagdad


PUBLICATIONS
Portocarrero, E. Networked Playscapes: Redefining the Playground
Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT, 2017

TALKS 2019 Experience Fighters
Madrid, ES

2017 Mapping Festival
Paradigm Shift Forum
Geneva, CH

2015 O’Reilly’s SOLID Conference
San Francisco, CA

2015 Ad Week Creative Thinkers
New York City, NY

Tecnológico de Monterey Mexico City, MX


AWARDS
2017 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Award in the Visual Arts

2016 Bill Mitchell ++ Fund, MIT

2015 MISTI Seed Fund, MIT & CONACYT

Drawing from research in architecture, urban planning, design, play, cognitive development, ubiquitous computing and telepresence, Networked Playscapes proposes a paradigm shift in playground design that reflects the one play undergoes with, by and through technology.

Networked Playscapes was deployed in Mexico City by invitation from the city’s innovation laboratory chief creative officer. Three distinct networked installations bridged six neighborhoods with high indexes of segregation through play. Networked Playscapes won multiple grants and awards, and was generously supported by public and private institutions, bringing people together who would not otherwise come together from its conception.  

Designed in and for Mexico City, three locally-driven play experiences promote communication and co-creation through networked play among marginalized neighborhoods that sit "far away - so close," divided physically, culturally, and socially by the so-called "city scars." These interventions hope to debunk the current child-oriented, government implemented, litigation inspired design status-quo of analog, permanent, and static playgrounds and instead, offer playscapes: networked experiences that go beyond a defined or permanent place, are designed with a broader understanding of play, and cater "children of all ages."

These provide the range of desirable stimuli usually considered optimal when designing playgrounds: physical/motor, creative, social/emotional, sensory/perceptual, and peace and quiet, and extend it to playscapes: free of time and space constraints.

In terms of networking, they sample three levels of connectedness: awareness of other, awareness of consequence of action at a distance (teleoperation), and interpersonal engagement with others in synchronous and asynchronous modalities.

For detailed information on Andamio, Triciclo, or Listentree, please visit each.

Networked Playscapes was granted the Bill Mitchell ++ Prize, an MIT-Conacyt Seed Fund, and was supported by Archivo Arquitectura y Diseño, Laboratorio para la Ciudad, and Museo Tamayo, where it inspired the exhibit "Noguchi's Playscapes."

Networked Playscapes was recognized with the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize for the Visual Arts at MIT.

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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 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 does us better when it is accessible, 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.