Important as the individual pieces are to the success of a playground, more crucial is the way those parts come together. The overall form of a playscape should be balanced through repetition and contrast. In terms of repetition, corresponding colors or recurring patterns can unify a site. Also, using playground equipment that blends into a single theme, even if that theme is not concrete, will capture the attention of visitors by allowing them to associate the site with a certain subject matter—rather than having them try to figure out how a very abstract combination relates. In the end, a site should be attractive to both kids and their guardians.
At Shasta Park in Manteca, comparable slides are a great example of repetition. Through color and height, these slides are similar to each other and generate a memorable image. They also offer a chance to race. Across the playground, there is no well-defined theme, but a common feel is achieved though shapes, angles, colors, and forms.
Contrast creates variety within a playground. This can be attained by putting in features that add different elements of play. These might include pieces that allow children to climb up, scale across, slide down, or swing out. Having a versatile array of equipment at a single site will help cater to the desires of each distinct visitor. One child may like to swing all day while another might want spend hours scaling a rock wall. Ideally, a playground should offer a mix of possible activities because attention spans usually aren’t that long. For example, at Shasta Park, an orb-x, a rock climber, a large swing set, and a rope climber are used to convey a strong sense of variety.
Through contrast and repetition, a playscape can be shaped into something rare, yet familiar.