It’s natural to associate playgrounds with childhood and to feel nostalgic for the particular brand of whimsy that comes with early exploration and risk-taking. Maybe that’s why these spaces appeal to audiences as colourful and dynamic as the structures they are made up of. But that spirit of playfulness isn’t solely reserved for kids — nor should it only exist in outdoor spaces. Because of the creativity these public areas encourage, architects often incorporate incredibly surprising, non-traditional design elements into their construction that we’d happily have in our homes.
Rotterdam in The Netherlands is known as a playground for leading architects and has a long tradition of modern architecture in Europe. The bright yellow Cube Houses in Rotterdam designed by the late architect Piet Blom in the 1970s, are probably some of the most famous buildings in the Netherlands and attract people from all over the world. Based on the concept of "living as an urban roof", Piet Blom wanted to design a kind of village within the city and saw the houses as trees and the whole development area as a wood. I had a chance to visit them in December 2019, and have found its architecture to be utterly amazing.
While Rotterdam is known for radical architecture and forward-thinking city planning, architects around the world are also finding ways to integrate “Living in an urban roof” in their own cities too. There is an ever-growing interest by a new generation of ambitious emerging architects. So based on Rotterdam's Cube Houses concept design, I explored the idea of whether there is any similar cube house architecture in Singapore. The answer is, in my view, yes there are indeed cube house themed playgrounds in Singapore, hence this post today. An ideal playground should be a mixture of architecture, aesthetics and play value - something that both the designers and people who patronise the playground can be proud of. #dontsayinevershare
Do you like to visit art galleries? There are many different types of art galleries around the world. If you like art, science, or history, there are galleries that will inspire and delight you.
I visited an interesting art gallery recently filled with surprises. Located in a nondescript corner on the second floor of Singapore Raffles Hotel Arcade, Art Now is a gallery that makes creative designs and intriguing art pieces accessible to the public with free admission. For those who enjoy both art and culture, why not visit Art Now gallery that offers both.
The whole space is cosy and filled with a bewildering array of creations that run the gamut of pop art and the contemporary to 2D and 3D fine art, as well as fashion and other unique lifestyle items. From the architecture to the interior design, the gallery also includes bespoke furniture.
Though many of the current generation (born in the late nineties and 2000 onwards) may not realise it, they are rather lucky in the matter of choices than any of the earlier generations. Not only do they have options like the fine dining, cafeterias, delicatessens, fast food joints and pubs but they also have the option of eating at food courts. A food court can be defined as a smorgasbord of immense proportions offering many food choices at one place with several small eateries offering you different cuisines at one place and that too at affordable rates. That is why the decoration and arrangement of food courts has become of tantamount importance today. We have to admit that while many of us may not give that much weightage to the décor of the food court with a conscious mind, it does weigh on our decision to eat there. If you know all about restaurant decoration, then you realise it does have an impact and it is the same way with food courts and the way they are decorated.
So I decided to explore something many diners at Food Republic outlet, Basement 1 @Shaw House in Orchard Road Singapore realise but are unable to put their finger on – the creative theme behind the décor. In its own understated way, this Food Republic outlet is considered an art exhibition itself with each food stall beautifully styled using these large scales wallpaper murals. The typography is perfect and really fits well with the décor. You may already have experienced dining there before, but didn’t recognise the art works at the first glance. That’s because they are masked in unique decor and visual interest like never before. The cute and simple illustrations spread across the murals are actually inviting and interesting, adding some hipster vibes to the whole dining place. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the artworks while enjoying my meal, hence this blog post today to share the murals. #dontsayinevershare
The Housing & Development Board ("HDB") designed a range of playground designs for its public housing estates in the 1970s. Most of these playgrounds have been demolished for modern ones which are easily distinguished by its plastic and metal features, as well as rubber mats. Only a handful of the iconic playgrounds still stand today. For an alternative itinerary, I took a peek at the charming vestiges of its past – like these dragon playgrounds of yesteryear.
Many Singaporeans would remember them as exciting playgrounds when they were very young, that offered thrilling fun play spots where one could climb up the dragon’s spine, slide down the terrazzo slides and dart about playing police-and-thief with friends. The dragon is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it in Asian culture, and it was turned into a place where children can run along its spine and slide down its head. Even if you have yet to see these iconic playgrounds in person, I’m pretty sure you have seen some on your Instagram feed. These dragon playgrounds are the poster child of retro playgrounds in Singapore.
With no signs of any possible overseas travel in the near term due to growing transmissible delta variant around the world, there is no better time to explore our own backyard more and not forgetting these dragon playgrounds which have warmed the cockles of many Singaporeans back in the good old days. Lets head on down for a dose of nostalgia and get ready for a major throwback !