Beyond the features and the theme of a playground, the site layout will shape how visitors experience that site. For this reason, it is important to consider many different aspects—such as the size of the surrounding population and the predominant age group who will utilize the space—when determining the placement of the playscape parts. Catering to these factors will help increase accessibility, decrease congestion, promote safety, and boost the overall effectiveness of the site.
If the area around the site is heavily populated, a spread out layout might be the best option. In doing this, a designer will allow children to move about in the open space between features more in order to reduce collisions, to allow time for features to become less crowded, and to provide much needed breathing room. This act increases the safety of a playground and increases the effectiveness of it by decreasing the time kids have to wait around to ride on equipment like slides, glide lines, and overhead challenges.
If the surrounding area’s population is rather sparse, then perhaps it is a good idea to condense the features of the site to bring the visitors closer together. Kids usually like to play together, so having the features closer together will keep them in one area. Also, if a large population won’t be using the site, the placement does not have to prevent over crowding, in which case having a more condensed layout will decrease the amount of time it takes to get from one feature to another, thus improving the effectiveness of a site.
The age group that will use the site plays a great role in the layout as well. For instance, if the children at the playground will most likely be five and under, the features will not only need to be lower to the ground, they will also have to be closer together so that parents can keep a closer eye on those younger children. If the children will be older, there is still a need for supervision, but more leeway can be given so the placement of the parts can be more spread out. By taking the surrounding population into account during the design stage of a playground, that site’s effectiveness can be greatly improved.