New playground to be set up near banyan tree outside National Museum

An inflatable playground outside the National Museum.
An inflatable playground outside the National Museum. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Bouncy inflatable playgrounds outside the National Museum. Visitors will get to share their wishlist and weigh in on how their ideal playground looks like at a new exhibition on the country's playgrounds.
Bouncy inflatable playgrounds outside the National Museum. Visitors will get to share their wishlist and weigh in on how their ideal playground looks like at a new exhibition on the country's playgrounds.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong penning his playground memories at the memory wall of The More We Get Together exhibition.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong penning his playground memories at the memory wall of The More We Get Together exhibition.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
An interactive installation titled Building A Singapore Playground.
An interactive installation titled Building A Singapore Playground.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
A reimagined swing at the reimagined playground equipment installation, designed by a team of 10 students from SUTD.
A reimagined swing at the reimagined playground equipment installation, designed by a team of 10 students from SUTD.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
A rope play equipment exhibit by CT-Art Creation, the same company which built the iconic rope play pyramid in West Coast Park.
A rope play equipment exhibit by CT-Art Creation, the same company which built the iconic rope play pyramid in West Coast Park.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO
Called The More We Get Together: Singapore's Playgrounds 1930 - 2030, the exhibition is the first in-depth showcase on playgrounds.
Called The More We Get Together: Singapore's Playgrounds 1930 - 2030, the exhibition is the first in-depth showcase on playgrounds.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

SINGAPORE - Sand pits, swings, water elements, nature audioscapes, and possible climbing courses.

These are some of the possible elements of a new playground to be set up outside the National Museum next year. It will be located next to its stunning banyan tree which has played host to art installations and outdoor movie screenings over the years.

In building its playground, the museum will take in the inputs of the public, who will get to share their wishlist and weigh in on what their ideal playground would look like at a new exhibition on the country's playgrounds.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Friday (April 20) launched The More We Get Together: Singapore's Playgrounds 1930 - 2030, the first in-depth exhibition on playgrounds..

Mr Wong said that it was timely to take stock to show how far Singapore has progressed to make better and more inclusive playgrounds.

He said: "I think playgrounds are very well-loved landmarks in our HDB estates and we've certainly come a long way from the days when we had basic functional playground equipment like slides and see-saws. Over the years, we've progressed and have been designing iconic playgrounds that resonate with Singaporeans."

Nearly two years in the making, the exhibition has four sections.

The first details how children used to find open fields, open drains, alleyways and five-foot ways to play. The first dedicated public children's playground was built in 1928 in Dhoby Ghaut.


A file photo of the municipal playground at Dhoby Ghaut. PHOTO: 
SPORT SINGAPORE

In 1930, import and export merchant David J. Elias donated swings, a see-saw and a slide to Katong Park.

 
 
 

Said Ms Rachel Eng, 22, a curatorial and programmes assistant manager who co-created the exhibition: "Back then tuberculosis was rampant. The Government encouraged people to head to Katong Park for fresh air and to take a break from the overcrowded conditions."

In 1951, the Government set up a Playing Fields Committee to examine Singapore's recreational needs. Its report found that there were less than 250 acres of space serving the sports and recreation needs of 700,000 people. Its recommendation included rolling out more open, recreational spaces.

New play areas were constructed in Singapore's first satellite town, Queenstown.

The second section details how the Housing Board started designing and building their own playgrounds based on local heritage and culture.

On show are the blueprints of HDB's first playground designer Khor Ean Ghee, who designed terrazzo and glass mosaic tiled playgrounds.

He is known for his designs of the Dragon and Dove playgrounds, among others. Over 13 years, Mr Khor, a trained architect who also had a degree in Fine Arts, said he developed 40 designs.

Mr Khor said before HDB started rolling out these designs, there were very few playgrounds in Singapore. "Back then, few countries thought of children's interest. You might come across monkey bars and fitness equipment but these were mostly located within school grounds."

His designs, which incorporated sand pits and varying textures, were inspired by his own childhood experience.

"We had to use our own imaginations - we made our own kites, used a bamboo stick to prod and run after a bicycle wheel and we pretended palm tree leaves were boats. We created our own playgrounds," he said.

The third section details how a new safety standard for playgrounds, SS457, provided a clear framework for all playgrounds here, which led to visible changes to playgrounds - namely the introduction of rubber flooring to cushion falls to replace the classic sand pit.


The Paris Ris Park playground in 1987. PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF SINGAPORE

This section captures other playground favourites such as the space net created out of rope and wood at Pasir Ris Park.

The final section discusses the role of playgrounds in shaping a sense of identity.

National Museum director Angelita Teo said: "The exhibition focuses on these distinctive community spaces where people from different backgrounds gather, and uncover how the importance of playgrounds goes beyond their physical structures to include their place and meaning in our society."

The exhibition runs till Sept 30.