Surviving Heritage Mosaic Playgrounds

I absolutely love the old mosaic Playgrounds, so we went on the hunt for these heritage playgrounds that come in the form of dragons, animals, and fruits. There are many articles about these playgrounds on the internet but as we collated the info and tried to locate them, we found that many have already been demolished. So I’ve put together this complete list of the surviving ones (save the adventure-themed ones which aren’t covered predominantly in mosaic) if anyone wants to see them before they disappear totally.

All of these playgrounds are designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, who was working with the Housing and Development Board (HDB), in the 1970s and 80s. They were built to create spaces for the children to play safely and learn about local identity.

Animal Playgrounds (Designed in 1974)
Even though Mr Khor had no experience in playground design, he came up with several designs in 1974 that featured static animal sculptures alongside the typical swings, slides and merry-go-rounds. Currently, two animal playgrounds can still be found in Pasir Ris and Dakota Crescent. While you’re here, you may also be interested to take walk around the charming old Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) housing estate built in 1958 and named after the Dakota DC-3 aircraft.


Elephant: Pasir Ris Park. Inside the NS Home Team Chalet that is open to public.


Elephant: Pasir Ris Park. Inside the NS Home Team Chalet that is open to public.


Blue Doves: Next to Blk 16 Dakota Crescent.


Blue Doves: Next to Blk 16 Dakota Crescent.

Dragon Playgrounds (Designed in 1979)
Mr Khor’s personal favourite, amongst the over 30 playground designs he created for the HDB, is his Dragon playground. He turned the fierce mythical animal in Chinese legends into a playful sculpture where children can run along its spine, slide down its head, or play using the ropes and tyre swings attached on to it. The Dragon’s attractive design and maintenance-friendly feature made it a popular choice in the 1980s amongst HDB’s architects who got to decide which playground design to install in public housing estates.


Orange & White Dragon: Next to Blk 28 Toa Payoh Lor 6.


Orange & White Dragon: Next to Blk 28 Toa Payoh Lor 6.


Orange & Green Dragon: Next to Blk 570 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3.

There are also two existing Baby Dragons, one in Toa Payoh and the other in MacPherson. Because some spaces were too small to house the Dragon playground housed in a 10-metres by 10-metres sandbox, “Baby Dragons” modified from the original design were produced instead. While you’re here, drop by the Van Gogh Street Gallery located at the void deck of Block 56 on Pipit Road, just next door to the Pink Baby Dragon.


Pink Baby Dragon: Next to Blk 54 Pipit Road.


Pink Baby Dragon: Next to Blk 54 Pipit Road.


Orange Baby Dragon: Next to Blk 240 Toa Payoh Lor 1.


Orange Baby Dragon: Next to Blk 240 Toa Payoh Lor 1. Sharing the site with a new generation slide.

Singapore Icons Playgound (Designed in 1980’s)
Also in the 1980s, other local icons like the bumboat and rickshaw also became inspirations for the designs. Of this series, only one has survived and can be found on Elias Road. This sampan comes with real tyres attached to the side and front of the boat.


Bumboat/Sampan: Elias Road, next to 601A MSCP.


Bumboat/Sampan: Elias Road, next to 601A MSCP.


Bumboat/Sampan: Elias Road, next to 601A MSCP.

Fruit Playgrounds (Designed in 1980’s)
During the late 1980s, some designs were based on their locations, such as fruit-themed ones in Choa Chu Kang New Town, once a farming area. Out of this series, the two that remain standing are the Watermelon and Mangosteens, both are located within Tampines Central Park.


Watermelon: Tampines Central Park.


Watermelon: Tampines Central Park.


Mangosteens: Tampines Central Park.


Mangosteens: Tampines Central Park.


Mangosteens: Tampines Central Park. Inside of the fruit, filled with graffitti.

Children Stories Playgrounds (Designed in 1988)
In 1988, a new generation of playground designs based on children’s play themes were introduced, including a colourful clock, an old woman’s shoe house, fire engines and the fairytale character Humpty Dumpty. From these series, only two remain. Both of which are clocks and can be found in Bishan and Boon Lay. The one in Boon Lay was fenced up when we visited and can no longer be played on, but it’s still visible from the outside.


Clock & Brown House: Next to Bishan bus interchange.


Clock & Brown House: Next to Bishan bus interchange.


Clock & Pink House: Next to Blk 176 Boon Lay Drive.

So there you go, the full list of surviving heritage / mosaic playgrounds we used to play on back in the day. For more information about these playgrounds and others that have been demolished, check out the Singapore Memory Project.

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