New 'heritage' and 'themed' playgrounds for HDB estates

Six built so far, with nine more to be ready by 2021

In a bid to strengthen community ties in estates, the Housing Board is looking to design new playgrounds that pay homage to a neighbourhood's heritage.

It is the next step in playground design, which has evolved from simple swings and slides in the 60s, to more complicated play structures that cater to multiple generations in a family in recent years.

HDB's latest "thematic playgrounds" are meant to strengthen a town's identity, give children better play experience and encourage closer bonds between families and neighbours.

They are built around a neighbourhood's history - such as the one at Eastbank@Canberra in Sembawang, which features a double-decker ship from which children can "sail" through the seven seas, a riff on the town's past as a former naval base.

They can also be centred on a theme, like an upcoming Alice in Wonderland-themed playground in Dawson in Queenstown, where children can swing under the Chesire Cat, slide down a rabbit hole or play hide-and-seek among a maze of cards - all hints of features in the children's classic.


The new generation of playgrounds are designed with equipment to spur a wide array of activities such as climbing, balancing and jumping - skills to build confidence in children, HDB said yesterday.

Six such playgrounds have been completed, in Chua Chu Kang, Woodlands, Sembawang, Sengkang and Toa Payoh. Nine more will be ready by 2021, with five of them in Dawson, where about 5,000 families will move in by end-2020.

All new estates will get such playgrounds where possible, an HDB spokesman said.

HDB's director for landscape and design Brian Low said such playgrounds help give families ownership of the place.

Referring to army-themed playgrounds in Chua Chu Kang, where the Keat Hong camp used to stand, he said: "Fathers can tell their kids about what they did in the army."

HDB has, in recent years, made it a priority to improve social interactions in estates.

For example, it signed a $6 million project last September with the Singapore University of Technology and Design to use data analytics and behavioural studies to create the "new urban kampung" and improve neighbourly ties.

Newer Build-To-Order estates also feature "community living rooms", with seating and placement meant to spark more conversations.