Experimental Education Unit
University of Washington Campus
Seattle, WA


The EEU is a research & training facility at the University of Washington. Inclusive school year and summer programs for children with and without disabilities feature a variety of specialists including speech/language pathologists, therapists, social workers, and nurses.

The HSW Studio team worked with occupational and physical therapists to develop a state of the art play structure in the central courtyard of the EEU. Most of the new structure is raised above the ground, suspended from beams that support the existing courtyard roof. The raised design creates two layers of play space – open tier at ground level with special spaces such as a ball pit and child-sized wooden tunnel for wiggling through. The raised tier consists of a labyrinth of nooks and passageways with bridges and uneven surfaces to navigate. Stairs at one end allow fairly easy access. At the other end, a ladder adds more challenge to climbing up.

Along with nonspecific features that allow youngsters to explore and create their own ways to play, activities prescribed by physical and occupational therapists to test and develop motor skills were worked into the design. The resulting structure incorporates a variety of spaces and activities intended to prompt children at all stages of development to crawl, bounce and roll.