APE Studio is committed to fostering conversations that advance the design and reframe the perception of play environments. To that end, we facilitate a number of play talks, panels, and discussions exploring creative solutions to improve the quality and availability of play in children’s lives. Read on for descriptions of our educational offers.


Upcoming Opportunities


Nov 2019


Play for All: Fostering Inclusive Moments

Creating play environments that conform to accessibility requirements does not always translate into inclusive, shared play experiences. This session will look at the moments within existing play spaces—ranging from sensory gardens to accessible play features to water environments—that are both technically accessible and welcoming to users of all ages and abilities.

This is an invitation-only session. Space is limited. 1 PDH, LA CES / HSW.


Learning opportunities denoted with the “LA CES” logo have been approved by the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System, which is a collaboration of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, and the Landscape Architecture Foundation. 


Ongoing Opportunities

APE Studio offers a range of learning opportunities available upon request.  For more information about a particular topic, or our eduction initiatives generally, please contact edu@apeoriginal.com.


Golden Rules for Playspace Design 

Outdoor playgrounds are an open invitation for children to explore and engage with the world. As children touch, move, build and climb, they are learning—even subconsciously—about themselves, their companions, and the physical environment. Since childhood experiences have a profound and lasting impact, designing spaces for children’s play is a consequential undertaking. Presenters will provide an overview of the key factors that influence playground design and a deeper exploration of tested approaches for integrating elements of adventure, collaboration, and imagination to create an atmosphere that fosters self-determination and enduring enjoyment.


Everything in Flux: Water for Play 

Essential to life, water is also fundamental to great playspaces. Water holds an elemental fascination; its innumerable properties invite contemplation, experimentation, and play. “Everything in Flux” explores water's characteristics, the social behaviors it fosters, and how to design playspaces that capture imaginations and inspire repeat park visits.


The Value of Wood for Playground Equipment 

Natural wood is especially beneficial and conducive to satisfying play. Often, however, there are considerable barriers to including wood on playgrounds. This presentation examines the characteristics and benefits of wooden playground equipment—and addresses commonly held concerns about safety and maintenance--drawing on case studies of successful playground installations in the United States.


Creative Cooperation for Powerful Play

Peter Heuken, director of special projects at Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, plays an integral role in the design and fabrication of custom-built playground equipment for major projects around the globe. His work challenges perceptions and expectations of what a playground is and for whom it is built, making equipment for children of all ages and ranges of mobility.  In this session, Mr. Heuken shares insights gained from groundbreaking destination playgrounds in the United States, including Tulsa’s Gathering Place, among numerous projects nationwide. He shares his unusual perspective on integrating play within landscape and the learning curve that accompanies close collaboration with architects and landscape architects.  Note: This presentation can be tailored to individual firms and specific projects. 


Past Limited Engagements




Playing Around, a site-specific workshop at Gathering Place, Tulsa

In May 2019, APE Studio offered a series of sessions on playground planning based on our experience working with Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, advisers, and landscape architects to develop the five-acre Chapman Adventure Playground at Gathering Place, Tulsa:

  • Kids Will Be Kids: Designing for Play Value  

  • Fundamentals of Playspace Design: Space, User, Material  

  • Play for All: Fostering Inclusive Moments—from sensory gardens to accessible play features to water environments, moments that are both technically accessible and welcoming to users of all ages and abilities  

  • Climbing “Water Mountain”: The essentials of water play for developing rich experiences without overwhelming budgets and maintenance resources

  • Designing within the Standards: Maximizing fun and challenge within the bounds of safety requirements

  • Planning for Maintenance, the secret to playground longevity and success 

  • Planning Beyond the Free-Standing Slide, a review of slide types available, associated technical and safety considerations, and possible applications for each 

  • Considering the Construction Process: Planning Ahead for Smoother Installation.

These sessions were offered for as learning opportunities for credit by the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (“LA CES”). Upon request, APE Studio offers general versions of these sessions as Ongoing Opportunities. 


Reframing the Playground: Consideration of European Play Precedents at Tulsa’s Gathering Place 

Tulsa’s Gathering Place is home to the nation’s largest public playground—a space that is dedicated to adventure, inspiration, and community.  To prepare for this endeavor, the playground planners, landscape architects, and sponsors explored European play philosophies and traveled throughout Denmark, Germany, and the UK to observe play precedents. The result: Tulsa’s park and its play areas offer numerous opportunities for multi-layered, multi-generational, and challenging play influenced by this on-the-ground study.  Presenters from APE Studio and Richter discussed the opportunities and considerations for creating such an innovative environment in the United States.

This session was presented at US Play Coalition’s 2019 Conference on the Value of Play. 




Speaking of Risk

An international panel of speakers examined different strategies to create policy that is more accepting and encouraging of challenge in playspaces.  The conversation began by reviewing the importance of challenge in play environments before looking at standard development and implementation in Europe and the UK, specifically shifting policy towards risk-benefit analysis. Finally panelists explored creating a common language around risk, one involving all stakeholders. 

Presented at the International Play Association’s 20th Triennial conference.



The Multiplatform Playground

APE Studio’s Julia Rousakis spoke about the history and development of American playgrounds in this panel of makers of playful products, media, and experiences for children. Speakers discussed the similarities, differences, and opportunities for play across a variety of the platforms that exist in modern family life.

This session was part of the annual Kidscreen Summit.



Playful Cities: Kids & Design in Urban Environments

This panel for landscape architects, city planners, and advisers explored the design of play spaces in urban environments. Special consideration was given to developing comprehensive plans for play; effectively engaging children and youth in the design process; and understanding the essential childhood need for challenging play environments. 

Presented at the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Annual Meeting.



Risky Play, Thrills, and Ecstasy

While technology is improving every day to capture the feeling of reality, actual reality still exists beyond the screen! As part of “Actual Reality,” a panel focused on the theory and practice of designing and building real-world play experiences for kids—including theme park attractions, science centers, and water parks—Julia Rousakis explained the keys to creating exhilarating, empowering, extraordinary playgrounds. 

This presentation was part of the annual World Congress of Play.



Playing it Too Safe?

Are playgrounds today giving children what they need? This panel for landscape architects, project managers, and advisers discussed how to balance risk and safety in planning playspaces, while considering how the play—and legal—environment has changed in the twenty-first century, from both the European and the American practitioners’ perspectives.

Presented at the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Annual Meeting.