Climb onto the back of a giant ‘crocodile’ or step into its mouth – this is Land Design One’s winning design for the PLAY@Punggol design competition which pays homage to these magnificent creatures commonly found in mangrove areas. The competition seeks to enliven public spaces along Punggol Waterway with delightful installations.
We catch up with the winning teams and other competition participants on their designs for the second location along Punggol Waterway, a sand play area near an adventure bridge.
Winning design – Wow, A Crocodile! (Location 2)
By Land Design One Pte Ltd
Team: Kathleen Lacsina, Jovan Tong, Choong Yu Huan, Brian Baker, Neal Samac
Image credit: Land Design One.
Punggol used to be a fishing village where saltwater crocodiles were known to make an appearance from time to time! The design of the installation is a delightful and playful way to recall this aspect of Punggol’s unique history. Both adults and children can enjoy climbing and walking through this delightful giant crocodile, slide down it or play in the sandpit. Its blue belly within is a wave that reflects Punggol Waterway.
The jury applauded the design: “Besides paying homage to a part of Punggol’s heritage, this Instagram-worthy design is bold and fun, injecting greater buzz and excitement to the area.”
What was the inspiration behind your idea?
Yu Huan: I live close to Punggol Waterway, and it was surprising to learn that there used to be crocodiles in the area. We thought it would be interesting to feature the crocodile as the centrepiece and share this part of Punggol’s history.
The significance of our inspiration grew stronger when we presented it to one of our mentors. She shared how it evoked memories of her time living in Punggol where her family once owned a farm. Some of their animals were tragically eaten by crocodiles.
Two members from the Land Design One team, Choong Yu Huan (on the left) and Jovan Tong.
Tell us more about the design.
Jovan: We wanted to show the crocodile as being very strong and powerful, with open jaws that people can walk in.
We deliberately designed its body to be wavy to reflects the flow of Punggol Waterway. We also created a bridge that people can stand on and feel as if they are overlooking a part of the crocodile and enjoy more of the surrounding area.
Why did the team decide to join the competition?
Kathleen: Being landscape architects, we have engaged in the design of numerous parks and natural spaces. The competition provided us with an opportunity to delve into ways we can enhance the enjoyment of our environment and recreational areas for both adults and children.
Why is it important to activate and create meaningful public spaces?
Yu Huan: Everyone has their own story and something to share. When public spaces are well curated and designed, such spaces can potentially spark off different kinds of interactions and conversations amongst us. And help us find more common ground and similarities with each other.
Other notable submissions
Two other submissions were also recognised – submitted by Gan Ren Yu from Ren Architecture and the team from Provolk Architects.
Playground @ Mangroves (First runner-up – Location 2)
By Gan Ren Yu, Ren Architecture
Image credit: Ren Architecture.
The design of the installation is inspired by mangroves reimagined as an explorative space for play and rest. Its arched structures are inspired by the mangrove stilt roots.
On her inspiration and what she hopes people will experience from her design, Ren Yu shares: “With the site being a sandpit, it reminds me of the beach. Punggol is a coastal town, and mangroves are very much part of its past and current identity. This installation can be a place for both adults and children. The different scales of the arches cater for people of different ages.
The play equipment such as timber swings and steps encourage both group and individual activities. The location is also well shaded by trees. Adults can rest within the playground or play with their children, instead of waiting at the benches nearby.”
Sc(r)aping The Surface (Second runner-up – Location 2)
By Provolk Architects
Team: Jonathan Poh and Jovi Lim
Image credit: Provolk Architects.
The team explored creating a series of fun follies for all three locations of the competition. An “airscraper” for people to step up to get a panoramic view of the park, a “groundscraper” in the form of a sand pit for people to get closer to the ground and a “waterscaper”, a submerged structure that bring people closer to the water. The “groundscaper” idea was eventually selected as the key focus for the design of the installation.
On the “groundscaper” idea, Jonathan shares further: “We envision this as an animated surface, where its use can be shaped by the public. It is a place where children can climb, descend, and explore beneath the structure, while parents can comfortably recline on any section that conforms to their body contours. It is a play space that has many different functions beyond just being solely a playground.”
About the competition
The PLAY@Punggol design competition was launched on 3 February 2023, inviting Singapore-based practising designers to design installations at three locations along Punggol Waterway, to help create more interesting and memorable public spaces.
Map showing the three locations for the designed installations along Punggol Waterway for the competition.
With future enhancements and developments coming up around the area such as the Punggol Digital District and the Punggol Heritage Trail Park, the activated public spaces along Punggol Waterway can become new focal points for communities in the area.
The winning design ideas for the three locations were awarded to teams from DP Green and Land Design One, from a total of 81 submissions received for the competition. Another seven teams and individuals were also recognised for their designs.
The competition is organised by URA and is supported by the National Parks Board and JTC Corporation, with the Singapore Institute of Architects as the appointed Promoter. It provides an opportunity for practising designers to contribute towards the design and activation of public spaces in Singapore.
The installations for the three locations based on the winning designs are expected to be completed by the first half of 2024.
Thumbnail image credit: Land Design One.