First playground designed and built by residents opens in Sembawang Close

ST VIDEO: WONG KWAI CHOW

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

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 treehouse-, kelong-like features conceptualised, designed and built by residents living in the Canberra housing estate.

On Sunday (Jan 7), the residents put the finishing touches to the 185 sq m playground, assembling and installing the final pieces, including screwing in bolts to strengthen the structure.

They have named the facility - about the size of two four-room flats - Adventure Playground @ Canberra.

And 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 on Sunday, 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.

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," Mr Wong said.


Residents put the finishing touches to the playground, assembling and installing the final pieces, including screwing in bolts to strengthen the structure. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

The playground in Sembawang Close, adjacent to Block 334, involved about 1,800 people through design workshops, roadshows and surveys.

 

It pays tribute to Sembawang's past, when it used to be dotted with fishing villages and kelongs, or fishing jetties, by featuring climbing structures and hammocks which resemble fishing nets, as well as brown poles that look like a kelong on wooden stilts.

As younger residents wanted a playground which looks like a treehouse, a central tree-like climbing structure was incorporated into its design, with an outstretched green canopy to provide shade and shelter.

Primary 6 pupil Mohamed Nifaal, 12, said: "I chose this design because there are a lot of structures for climbing."


Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong installing a part of a slide at the Adventure Playground @ Canberra - the first community-built playground. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

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 who I've never met."


Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong takes a group photo with residents living in the Canberra housing estate. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

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 inspires residents to think about how playgrounds of the future can be.