During the early 1970s, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) introduced locally-designed playgrounds in the heart of housing estates. These early playgrounds were mainly functional and comprised swings, slides, see-saws, merry-go-rounds etc.
In 1979, HDB started to introduce new playground designs which conveyed a sense of Singapore's identity. One such design was the iconic dragon playground, designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, a former in-house designer at HDB.
The dragons have heads decorated with terrazzo tiles, a spine of steel rails, a slide as well as attached ropes and tyre swings. The full-sized dragon playground design can still be found in Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio while a smaller version can be found in Braddell and Macpherson.
During the 1980s, playground designs based on nursery rhymes, animals (such as elephants, rabbits, tortoises, pelicans etc), fruits and vegetables were introduced. Some of the playgrounds also featured elements of local heritage such as bumboats, trishaws and kelongs.
Throughout the 1990s, the designs of Singapore's playgrounds began to incorporate aspects of global culture including characters from popular cartoons and movies. However, by 1993, HDB stopped designing its own playgrounds and started to import modular playgrounds from overseas suppliers.
Today, most of the playgrounds found in housing estates are standard plastic play-sets with rubber mats, and similar to those found in developed countries all over the world. Of the playgrounds of yesteryear, fewer than 20 are left standing today.
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