Experimental Education Unit
University of Washington, Seattle, 1995, 1997
The Experimental Education Unit (EEU) is part of the University of Washington College of Education and serves as a training site and model program for developing ways to better serve children with disabilities.
The first project was a play structure for elementary school children. Students worked with occupational and physical therapists to develop sate-of-the-art play structure in the central courtyard of the EEU, as well as spending a lot of time playing with children at the existing structures and observing the kids in classrooms. As a result of this experiential research the students decided to raise most of the playground, suspending it from beans that support the existing courtyard roof. The open accessible spaces are at ground level, with a ball pit and a child sized wooden tunnel for wiggling through. The upper tier consists of a labyrinth of closed nooks and passageways with bridges and uneven surfaces to navigate. Stairs at one end allow easy access, while a ladder at the other end allows more of a challenge!
A second play court was built in 1997 for toddlers and infants. Materials, colors and forms were designed to represent the ocean and a mountain, complete with a cave. There is also a mosaic wall where children can make art with a built in chalkboard. Also included in the design is a quite area for kids, a parent and family area, a garden and a sensory play area with a variety of materials and textures.