Dragon's Legacy: The Toa Payoh Playground That Became a Singaporean Icon

February 15, 2024

Nestled in the heart of Toa Payoh, Singapore, the Toa Payoh Dragon Playground is not just a place for play but a vivid chapter from the nation's past, a symbol of collective memory and creativity. Located along Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, this iconic playground emerges from the landscape as one of the last two dragon playgrounds in Singapore—a nostalgic nod to a unique design that once dotted the neighborhoods of Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio.

A Glimpse into History

Conceived in 1979 and taking its proud stance in front of 28 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, the Dragon Playground was the brainchild of Khor Ean Ghee, a visionary former interior designer with the Housing Development Board (HDB). This creation was part of a broader initiative to sprinkle a bit of whimsy and wonder across the public housing estates with a series of animal-themed playgrounds. Inspired by an earlier dragon-shaped design in Toa Payoh Town Park, Khor Ean Ghee's iteration brought to life a vibrant, engaging space for children, with its multicolored steel rings forming the dragon's spine, offering a playful challenge to climb, and a slide cleverly nestled within its head, all resting upon a bed of sand.

Surviving the wave of modernization that saw the demise of its peers due to "safety concerns" in the late 1990s, the Toa Payoh Dragon Playground stands as one of Singapore's oldest playgrounds and has ascended to the status of a cultural icon. Its resilience and charm capture the essence of Singapore's heritage and communal spirit.

A Landmark Preserved

The playground's significance extends beyond its physical bounds; it is an integral part of the Toa Payoh heritage trail, which includes fifteen other historical sites. Amidst plans for urban redevelopment announced in 2014, which led to the demolition of surrounding buildings, the dragon playground was preserved as a testament to Singapore's commitment to its historical and cultural legacy. Celebrations of Singaporean independence's fiftieth anniversary in 2015 and plans unveiled by the Housing Development Board in 2017 to enhance its surroundings with additional facilities underscore the playground's enduring place in the heart of the community.

The Toa Payoh Dragon Playground is more than a structure; it is a beloved landmark that continues to inspire and enchant, bridging generations and fostering a sense of joy and wonderment in the urban landscape of Singapore.

Dragon Playground (Singapore Heritage)

28 Lor 6 Toa Payoh, Singapore 310028


Blk 240 Toa Payoh Lor 1 Dragon Playground (Baby)

240 Lor 1 Toa Payoh, Block 240, Singapore 310240


Dragon Playground

570 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, Singapore 560570


Blk 53 Dragon Playground

54 Pipit Rd, Block 54, Singapore 370054


Photo: Rodney Lim • ODOCO Agency Singapore • ODOCO Agency Singapore • International Art & Culture (Singapore) Federation

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