5 best old school playgrounds in Singapore

May 05, 2017
  • Old school playgrounds in Singapore
    1 / 6 Old school playgrounds in Singapore

    Don’t you just love old school retro playgrounds in Singapore?

    Along Toa Payoh Lorong 6, an orange dragon roars on against the tide of time.

    The iconic dragon-shaped playground, which was completed in 1979, will be preserved despite plans to revamp the mature Toa Payoh estate.

    A heritage marker will be installed at its site, revealed the Housing Board in plans unveiled at the HDB Hub atrium by Defence Minister and Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Ng Eng Hen on Apr 22.

    The brainchild of then-HDB designer Khor Ean Ghee, it is distinguished from modern playgrounds by its strong geometric lines and use of concrete, terrazzo and mosaic tiles, features abandoned owing to safety concerns in the mid-1990s.

    Despite hogging the lion’s share of attention, the Toa Payoh dragon is not the only retro playground that has survived to this day.

    Here are 6 of the best old school playgrounds in Singapore.

    Related: 4 cool playgrounds in Toa Payoh and Bishan

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  • Bishan Street 13 Clock Playground
    2 / 6 Bishan Street 13 Clock Playground

    Located next to Bishan Interchange along Bishan Street 13, clocks are this playground’s dominant motif.

    It forms a likely unintended irony when framed against the constant threat of removal for the sake of redevelopment.

    Dating back to around 1988, the small playground features a house on stilts with a clock face on its facade.

    Metal ladders and a bridge allow the young and young-at-heart to clamber and traverse behind the clock face, before sliding down a terrazzo slide hidden by another clock face.

    Quaint rocking horses atop metal springs can also be found at this playground, which is built on a sandpit that has not been replaced by the more modern rubber matting.

    Related: Best playgrounds in Singapore: The Oval in Seletar Aerospace Park 

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  • Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 Dragon Playground
    3 / 6 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 Dragon Playground

    Found in Cheng San estate, this dragon has a similar configuration to its more famous counterpart, but rubber matting has replaced what used to be a sandpit.

    Built around 1978, it has seen less wear and tear than its famous twin in Toa Payoh Lorong 6.

    A sinuous metal skeleton forms a twisting ladder from the dragon’s “tail” at ground level to its head, where mosaic-clad slides and more conventional stepladders may be found.

    Related: 5 fun playgrounds in Singapore

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  • Kim Keat Avenue T-Rex Playground
    4 / 6 Kim Keat Avenue T-Rex Playground

    Dinosaurs in Singapore! Hidden in Toa Payoh, this mama T-rex guards her eggs while her baby is poised for play.

    While there’s only another small dinosaur-shaped play structure there, the dino-crazed little ones will love running around and under this huge sculpture.

    There’s also a small food centre and neighbourhood supermarket one block away – so you can pick up drinks if your young ones wear themselves out trying to climb the dinosaur.

    Related: Best playgrounds in Singapore: Yishun River Green 

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  • Sampan Playground at Elias
    5 / 6 Sampan Playground at Elias

    Located near Elias Mall in Pasir Ris, this sampan-shaped playground was completed around 1994. It was one of Mr Khor’s final designs.

    Split into two halves atop a sandpit, one half contains a tyre ladder for children to clamber over, while the other is built slightly higher to accommodate a wide terrazzo slide with ladders at the bow of the sampan.

    Even the colour scheme of the playground reflects that of a sampan using green, red, brown, black and white tiles, right down to the painted eyes commonly seen on such boats.

    Related: Best mall playgrounds in Singapore: Tiong Bahru Plaza

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  • Block 28 Toa Payoh Lorong 6
    6 / 6 Block 28 Toa Payoh Lorong 6

    We couldn’t leave out the iconic dragon playground at Toa Payoh, which was thankfully left intact after the old blocks of flats around it were demolished.

    This one is missing its swing, but is in great condition otherwise. Find it opposite Safra Toa Payoh. Park in the small lot by blocks 29 and 30.

    Related: Best playgrounds in Singapore: Rumah Tinggi Eco-Park

    A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times
    (Photos: The Straits Times)

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