Tucked snugly amid Singapore Dakota Crescent's HDB blocks, the Dove playground is one of the few nostalgic playgrounds left in Singapore. Though it has aged with time, it is still well-preserved with rubber tyre swings and a slide sitting on a sand pit.
The old estate may be an oasis of calm but the occasional laughter can be heard from one of the last heritage playgrounds. The Dove playground periodically attracts the millennial Singaporean keen to reminisce the childhood of the rubber tyre swing and sand pit.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Your memory lane. Playgrounds had a bigger role in Singapore’s past than most people might think. Think back to when you were a small child, perhaps still in preschool or on the cusp of your first year in primary school. Was there a playground involved? Did you like going to playgrounds? How many playgrounds have you been to? Do you still visit playgrounds?
Today, while playgrounds are still widely visited by children of many ages, most of them have lost the façade of local design due to being upgraded. The playgrounds of today are much safer than the playgrounds of the past, but many are unhappy with how local design is hardly reflected in the newer playgrounds. So, both the playgrounds of yesterday and today do have their pros and cons, but how can one appreciate the past and present?
The Dove Playground has a distinctive faded blue tile appearance.
The very first playgrounds in Singapore were constructed by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in various districts during the late 1970s. They comprised of mostly concrete structures and mosaic tiles with the usual swings, see-saws, slides and merry-go-around, enclosed in a large sand pit. Not only that, what made these playgrounds unique is that the designs were based on animals, fruits and even common household objects like clocks. In fact, to reflect Singapore culture, some of these playgrounds were designed based on boats, attap houses and rickshaws. Sadly, these childhood memorabilia are demolished already and redeveloped to be replaced with plastic constructs too similar to one another.
This playground was designed by the same man who designed the Dragon Playground who was a former in-house designer of the HDB. You may also read my blog story on the Toa Payoh Dragon Playground at this link.
Winding slide at the Dove Playground.
Sandpits and concrete surfaces have long given way to rubberised mats and plastic structures; and these playgrounds are a thing of the past.
These rubber tyre swings are a sure sign of how long the playground has been around and I remember kids being so cautious when they used to sit in them as they got their butts stuck in them on a few occasions.
Times have certainly changed. Playgrounds may now be safer but in my opinion they are not nearly as fun.
Try visiting a playground today; it could be either a playground from the past, an upgraded one or even a newly-built one. What makes the playground appeal to you and children today? What is your favourite part of the playground? How will that playground change in the years to come?
Sadly, this Dove Playground, like many of Singapore’s heritage sites, is going down to make way for estate renewal and modernisation by end of 2016. Most of Dakota's residents have been living here since the blocks were constructed in the late 1950s. However, HDB has declared that residents must move out by end December 2016 to pave the way for redevelopment. The fate of this playground remains uncertain.
Will the Dove playground follow the example of Toa Payoh’s Dragon to be conserved amidst the estate’s redevelopment?
The playgrounds from the past may cease to exist, while the playgrounds of today may lose their local design as time passes. Nevertheless, nothing can make a bunch of children happier than a playground where they can play to their hearts’ content and just be children; what is important is that at least a playground and what it could mean to someone will still keep existing despite changing with the times.
So, please also take some time out today and play at a playground.