1930 - 2030

Postcard designed for public distribution

Project size: 250m2 / 2700 ft2
Status: Completed
Run time: April - Sept 2018
Location : National Museum of Singapore

Awards: Most Innovative Exhibition 2018,
Highest Visited Exhibition 2018

THE EXHIBITION EXPLORES the historical narrative of play as an integral part of Singapore’s development and heritage, while also inviting discourse for the playgrounds of the future. The design makes use of key floor finishes and details of the varied play spaces over history to create a tactile environment for nostalgia and imagination.

The exhibition saw over 6,000 visitors in its opening weekend and its design and unique concept is considered to be one of the first of its kind in Singapore’s local exhibition design scene,  winning two awards from the National Heritage Board in Singapore.


VIGNETTE 1 | 1920s - 1960s : GRASS

Abandoned playground equipment
in a grass field in Singapore

The narrative of playgrounds in Singapore is told in a linear journey through the space- in four different “vignettes”, each one unveiling a different time period that is significant to the changing structures and nuances of play in the country. The colors of each vignette are also chosen to tell the time of day- from the bright and fresh morning tones that transition to a late evening with the colors of fading sunlight and the setting sun.

In the Grass vignette, the effect of the wide open plains was replicated with the mirrored glass on the walls, despite the narrow nature of the corridor, creating the illusion of endless fields through the multiplied reflections.

VIGNETTE 2 | 1970s - 1990s : SAND

The Mosaic Dragon Sandbox Playground in Singapore
designed by Khor Ean Ghee in the 1970s

As a way to connect generations and people of different abilities through the common theme of play, the exhibition was designed to be immersive and experiential from floor to ceiling, with interactive activities throughout, to bring back the memories of what once was, and to suggest what could be in the future.

For example, in the Sand vignette, users take part in different activities to dive deep into the history of the mosaic playgrounds of Singapore. Pieces of information are inscribed onto materials such as concrete pipes, tyres and tiles and buried in the sandbox, inviting users to uncover them and learn more through the kinetic and tactile experience.

Wraparound elevation for Vignette 2
Material selection for Vignette 2
Production drawings for the penguin table in Vignette 2


Standard EPDM rubber flooring allow for varied topography,  
making it an extremely versatile floor finish in playgrounds

The rubber, or EPDM flooring reveals to us how the material choices of the time are relevant to the cultural and social concerns of the people. From grass to sand, and sand to rubber flooring, the design of playgrounds evolving over the years have shown an increase in safety and security concerns over the years.

By placing an actual usable playground structure within this space, users are invited to climb on and test their limits, and also test the safety of the equipment with the given tools. However, this also begs the question- how safe are playgrounds meant to be? Do we remove the element of risk and discovery in exchange for peace of mind? 

Wraparound elevation for Vignette 3


Data collected and visualised through responsive illustration and text - to be used in the future during the design and construction of the playgrounds of tomorrow 

What will the playgrounds of tomorrow be like? You decide. In this vignette, users are given the opportunity to input their desired playground through a survey and watch it appear onscreen, while a compilation of all the visitors’ ideal playgrounds are collated and shown on the main digital projection. 

Through this data-gathering exercise, the Museum collects key information from the users that will be considered during the design of an actual playground located directly outside the Museum space.