• Published Date: 15 Apr 2018

                Playgrounds in HDB estates are set to be reinvented, as HDB embarks on a new generation of thematic playgrounds that encourage imaginative play and exploration among children, and draw families and the community closer.  To date, six thematic playgrounds have been completed, with another nine to be ready by 2021.


    Evolution of HDB Playgrounds


    2          Playgrounds are an integral part of HDB estates. They form part of our shared social space and play a significant role in bringing families and the community together. Over the past decades, these playgrounds have evolved in design, form and function.


    3          In the 1960s and early 1970s, playgrounds in HDB estates comprised functional play equipment such as slides and swings. From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, playgrounds took on identifiable forms such as dragons and animals.  The mid-1980s brought on playgrounds inspired by nursery rhymes and children’s games such as Humpty Dumpty and Snakes and Ladders.  Playground designs depicting local fruit and vegetables such as mangosteens and water melons also sprouted in the late 1980s.


    4          Playgrounds in the early 1990s featured proprietary play equipment with a combination of play structures, growing in the 2000s, to become even more inclusive community spaces with the introduction of the 3-Generation Family Playground which catered for the elderly, adults and children.


    A New Generation of Thematic Playgrounds


    5          To enhance the experience of this key communal space for residents, young and old, HDB has embarked on a new generation of thematic playgrounds in new housing projects. The designs of these playgrounds are anchored on three key features:


    • Stronger Town Identity – Every town has its own character and distinct features.  Conceptualised from the outset together with the precinct design, the design of each playground will take into account the historical background and unique characteristics of the town.  For instance, the theme of the playground could reflect the history, heritage, or design intent of the town. In some precincts, the site context or precinct theme could also guide the design of the thematic playgrounds. This helps to reinforce the town’s character and identity, and strengthen the community’s attachment to their town.
    • Enhanced Play Experience – Beyond a place for fun and laughter for children, thematic playgrounds are designed to inspire their imagination and nurture an adventurous spirit through exploration and role play.  For instance, the selection of play equipment allows a wide array of activities such as climbing, swinging, balancing and jumping, to build confidence and resilience in children.  Coupled with the immersive theme, the playground will encourage role play and interaction amongst the children, as well as with their parents.
    • Closer Bonds – As popular gathering points, playgrounds are conducive for interaction. The distinctive design of each playground, and their story as told through the accompanying storyboards, can serve as a conversation starter amongst family and neighbours.  Play features that involve adults are also purposefully added to encourage parents to play an active part and bond with their children through play.  For instance, the playgrounds may revolve around well-loved children’s stories (e.g. Alice in Wonderland) or the shared-experiences of Singaporeans (e.g. National Service), which can spark spontaneous conversations.


    Six Completed Thematic Playgrounds


    6          To date, six thematic playgrounds have been completed in Choa Chu Kang, Sengkang, Woodlands, Sembawang and Toa Payoh (refer to Annex A for details). Among them is the military-themed playground cluster in Keat Hong estate, where play equipment resembling military vehicles and structures whisk residents into an alternative reality.


    7          Military camps once occupied the sites where HDB precincts Keat Hong Mirage and Keat Hong Quad, and the neighbourhood park Keat Hong Garden now stand in Choa Chu Kang. Paying homage to its roots, the playgrounds in the estate have been designed with hints of the military theme.


    8          In particular, two distinctive military-themed playgrounds have been built at Keat Hong Garden and Keat Hong Mirage. Here, fathers and grandfathers can regale their children and grandchildren with stories from their National Service days.  Children get to climb and “drive” a “military tank”, or make a quick getaway from “enemies” via a fire-man pole after being warned by their lookout stationed at the nearby “watch tower”.  They also enjoy the thrill of a mini obstacle course as they scurry through an enclosed vertical play structure. Marking the “army camp” boundary is the playground’s rubber flooring, which is designed to mimic military camouflage colours. Harnessing the area’s natural terrain, the playground features a mini hill installed with “cannons” for children to fend against make-believe intruders.


    The thematic playgrounds at Keat Hong pay homage to the town’s military heritage


    More Thematic Playgrounds


    9          Over the next few years, more residents can look forward to such immersive play as HDB completes another nine thematic playgrounds in Bukit Panjang, Dawson and Clementi by 2021. 


    10        Five of these playgrounds will be located in Dawson estate, which will be ushering in five new housing projects with 5,000 new households by end of 2020.  In line with the “Housing-in-a-Park” vision for Dawson, the playgrounds will be designed along nature themes:


    • The Wonderland Playground at Dawson Vista, inspired by the children’s classic “Alice in Wonderland”, will be a visually stunning playground that sets the imagination ablaze. After swinging under the Cheshire Cat tree, sliding down the rabbit’s hole and getting lost in a maze of cards, adventurers can take it easy at the Giant Green Net playground next door at Forfar Heights. Here, they can chill out on the hammock-like seats or scale the netted climbing course reminiscent of giant creepers.


    Each thematic playground is designed with a unique storyline to inspire children’s imagination and develop their creativity


    • The “Hills and Ribbons” playground at SkyResidence @ Dawson echoes the design of the project’s “Green Ribbon” landscaped deck. Children will enjoy a course of climbing ropes, slides and trampolines which meanders through the gently undulating terrain of the precinct’s playground. They can also challenge their balancing skills as they immerse themselves in imagining a quest among the hills, as they venture into the lair of the adjacent Giant Spider playground at SkyOasis @ Dawson. Designed to resemble the common garden creature, the spider-themed playground with its rope-climbing structures set amidst giant plant-like climbers, weaves a web of adventure for the children.


    The spider-themed playground at SkyOasis@Dawson weaves a web of adventure for children


    • For nature-lovers, the Eco Adventure playground at SkyParc @ Dawson runs through the eco-corridor located between the SkyVille@Dawson and SkyTerrace@Dawson precincts. In the spirit of connectivity, the playground will feature a variety of bridges, among other play equipment such as swings and slides. The use of timber features strongly in this playground, blending in with the surrounding greenery.


    Playground Exhibition at National Museum        


    11        The memories of our playground adventures form an important part of our collective experience of growing up in Singapore. To celebrate this, the National Museum of Singapore, in collaboration with HDB, will be presenting an exhibition on playgrounds in Singapore, titled The More We Get Together: Singapore’s Playgrounds 1930 – 2030.  Running from 20 April to 30 September, the exhibition will chronicle the evolution of Singapore’s playgrounds over the different eras, including the many well-loved playgrounds in HDB estates.  All are invited to visit the exhibition, to reminisce and reimagine the significance of our everyday playgrounds.