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Iconic dragon playground in Toa Payoh escapes demolition

SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said one of Singapore’s oldest playgrounds — an iconic dragon-shaped structure atop a sand pit along Lorong 6 Toa Payoh that was named one of the world’s most amazing playgrounds by a New York blog — will stand unscathed, while four HDB blocks surrounding it are demolished over the next few months.

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SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) said one of Singapore’s oldest playgrounds — an iconic dragon-shaped structure atop a sand pit along Lorong 6 Toa Payoh that was named one of the world’s most amazing playgrounds by a New York blog — will stand unscathed, while four HDB blocks surrounding it are demolished over the next few months.

Pending future development plans for the area, the HDB said the playground would remain in its original location.

The four blocks of HDB flats to be torn down — Blk 28, 30, 32 and 33 at Lorong 6 Toa Payoh — were built in 1969 and came under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme in 2003. Residents moved out in 2008 and hoardings were later put up for public safety.

The HDB said demolition works for the four blocks are expected to completed by the middle of this year, but the public can still access the dragon playground, which is located outside the temporary fencing.

The Toa Payoh dragon playground was last year picked by New York culture blog, Flavorwire.com, as one of 15 amazing playgrounds from all over the world.

Designed by Mr Khor Ean Ghee, a former interior designer at the HDB, it was likely built in the ’70s, when playground designs reflected aspects of Singapore’s culture and identity. A similar playground can be found along Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 and there are also smaller versions in Braddell and Macpherson.

Several heritage buffs have chronicled these old-school playgrounds online and called for their preservation, including blogger Jerome Lim, who welcomed the preservation of the dragon playground, which was first reported in Lianhe Zaobao yesterday.

“It does give us a sense of belonging, a sense of place, especially in Singapore where places we are familiar with are all too quickly disappearing,” said Mr Lim, who runs the blog The Long and Winding Road.

Author of the Remember Singapore blog, who wished to remain anonymous, said he hoped other iconic playgrounds, like Dakota Crescent’s seal playground and Bishan’s clock playground, will also be preserved, though many have been torn down.

Private tutor Gene Tan, a Lego enthusiast who built a miniature model of the playground using Lego bricks, said he hoped the authorities would not do away with the playground’s sand pit and replace it with soft rubber matting, as was the case with the Ang Mo Kio dragon playground.

“I hope the sand will be retained so my kids can experience 100 per cent what it was like in our younger days,” said the 36-year-old.

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