Bishan Park Playscape, Atelier Dreiseitl, Singapore, 2012

The restructuring of Singapore’s massive Bishan Park in 2012 included several dedicated play spaces, each nice in their own way:  a large sand pit with a playable swiss cheese wall as backdrop to climbing domes and a feature that I can only imagine is a ‘stroller roller coaster’, plus a water park, and a delightfully wacky assembly of playhouse and slide whose bubble windows remind me of this recyled playground from 1967.   I like the blue-painted sticks that serve as its bottom story and tunnel entrance, and note how the pathway running toward the playscape forms small hills as it approaches…a nice detail.

It’s great that they made these dedicated play spaces, of course, but the real genius of the park, and its most playable feature, is simply the 3 km long naturalized watercourse which prior to the renovation was a massive concrete drainage channel.  I’ve talked before on the blog about making drainage a feature and this is the same concept on a very grand scale.  Study it, and think about how it can be applied in a smaller way, even if only seasonally, in your own playscape.  Atelier Dreiseitl widely used a ‘more river more park’ concept.  Rather than trying to *narrow* the watercourse on your playground, make it bigger!  The flatter, wider channel will be safer and more playable.  I really love the unassuming nature of the watercourse, which largely eschews the flash of much modern landscape architecture.  Quietly brilliant and very playful.

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