repetition /rep-i-tish-uh n/ noun
the act of repeating; something made by or resulting from repeating
Copy and paste are two functions that we use almost every day in the office, sometimes with success, sometimes at our own peril. So too is the use of repetition in the built environment, a delicate balance of success and failure.
While attending the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) 100th Annual Conference in Charlotte last week, I was able to experience a variety of truly beautiful public spaces. Uptown Charlotte literally has a photo-worthy space on almost every corner, and many great lessons to be learned on placemaking and attention to detail. We could have picked one of a dozen great pieces of public art, a half dozen functional and vibrant plazas, and countless fountains (really, I lost count of all the great water features).
What really caught my eye was this gracefully curved walkway next to the football stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers). For a moment, imagine this walk with no planters and no banners and it’s a pretty mundane space, but with them, the space is striking, artistic, and supremely inviting. The pattern and form created by simply copying and pasting the planter, the plants in the planter, and the banners and the repetition created defines the space and creates the vista that catches many football spectators’ eyes every fall.
There are most certainly corridors in your community that could benefit from the impact of repetitive installations similar to this one. As you walk or drive through your town, look for opportunities to add color and pattern by repeating a dynamic design element. If you are cautious and repeat the right elements, the effect can be overwhelmingly positive.