A playground designed by residents

The 185 sq m playground has hammocks and a central tree-like climbing structure.
The 185 sq m playground has hammocks and a central tree-like climbing structure.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW
The 185 sq m playground has hammocks and a central tree-like climbing structure.
The 185 sq m playground has hammocks and a central tree-like climbing structure.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

First Build-A-Playground project opens in Sembawang; 5 other areas to adopt initiative

It's a playground for the people, built by the people.

After a year and a half that included much planning and discussions, Singapore's first community-built playground took shape in Sembawang Close with its tree house and kelong-like features conceptualised, designed and built by residents living in the Canberra housing estate.

Yesterday, they put the finishing touches to the 185 sq m playground - about the size of two four-room flats - assembling and installing the final pieces, including screwing in bolts to strengthen the structure.

They have named the facility Adventure Playground@Canberra.

Soon, residents in other parts of Singapore will also get to have a hand in redesigning existing playgrounds in their housing estates. Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, opening the playground yesterday, announced the expansion of the Housing Board's Build-A-Playground initiative.

Five existing playgrounds will be rejuvenated - one each in Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands and Pasir Ris, and two in Toa Payoh. They are Tembusu Park in Choa Chu Kang, Woodlands Admiral Garden, Seashell Park in Pasir Ris, and parks in Toa Payoh Lorong 1 and Toa Payoh Lorong 8.

More details about the projects will be shared at a later date.

LOOKS FUN

I chose this design because there are a lot of structures for climbing.

PRIMARY 6 PUPIL MOHAMED NIFAAL

Mr Wong said the design of playgrounds will evolve with time.

He added that the Build-a-Playground initiative allows residents to decide what would be best for their community and their children.

"The one thing we have learnt is that the most important aspect of a playground is not just the design but the process - how residents come together to design it and take ownership of it. When you take ownership of something, you take pride in it. You will use it and you come to appreciate the facility even more," he said.

The playground in Sembawang Close, near Block 334, involved about 1,800 people through design workshops, roadshows and surveys. It pays tribute to Sembawang's past, when the area used to be dotted with fishing villages and kelongs, by featuring climbing structures and hammocks that resemble fishing nets, as well as brown poles that look like a kelong on wooden stilts.

As younger residents wanted a playground that looks like a tree house, a central tree-like climbing structure was built into its design, with an outstretched green canopy for shade and shelter. Primary 6 pupil Mohamed Nifaal, 12, said: "I chose this design because there are a lot of structures for climbing."

His mother, housewife Fatimah Sarrah, 38, said she was happy her opinions were sought. "It also opened my eyes to the hard work that goes behind designing and building a playground," she said.

Housewife Jane Khoo, 38, said: "I've lived here for seven years and because of this playground, I've had the chance to get to know neighbours whom I'd never met."

Separately, Mr Wong said the National Museum of Singapore will be collaborating with HDB to hold an exhibition on how playgrounds have evolved over the years. Slated to be held later this year, it aims to inspire residents to think about what playgrounds of the future can be.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'A playground designed by residents'. Print Edition | Subscribe