Treetop playground a winning idea to foster bonding

Curriculum designer Abu Jalal Sarimon (second from left) and his teammates (from left) Ms Hung Yu Shan, Ms Hon Kai Wei and Ms Goh Jia Li. They came up with a treetop playground concept for Sembawang.

SINGAPORE - Residents of Sembawang will be reminded of the kampung days when a new treetop playground is built in the district in a couple of years.

Drawing inspiration from the area's history of seaside villages and kelong fishing jetties, the playground was one of three winning ideas to emerge from the Housing Board's inaugural Build-a-thon.

The three-day brainstorming workshop this week saw 65 participants from government agencies and educational institutions devise innovative ways of fostering bonding in two neighbourhoods - Siglap East in Bedok and Canberra in Sembawang.

"We believe it will connect people of all ages and give them a sense of pride and belonging to their estate," said Mr Abu Jalal Sarimon, one of the masterminds behind the playground.

It will also feature treehouses, kelong platforms, artificial blue carpet grass to look like seawater and a "bonding bench" lined with tiles designed by local residents.

Mr Abu Jalal, 50, who is a training curriculum designer with the Singapore Police Force, remembers living in a Telok Blangah kampung as a boy and building treehouses with his friends and two brothers. "This is definitely nostalgic for me and hopefully, it will be for others too,"said Mr Abu Jalal.

He and his team will receive $15,000 from HDB and the Public Service Division to realise the project.

Two other teams will share another $15,000 prize for their Siglap East projects: a pavilion built around fruit-bearing mango trees in the neighbourhood and themed walls for the different blocks.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan presented the awards at the HDB Hub Mall in Toa Payoh yesterday. "It is important to realise that our actions impact others," he said. "This includes simple, everyday things like making sure the volume of our television set or hi-fi set is not too loud at night, or keeping the common corridors clean."

Also announced yesterday were the winners of the Good Neighbours Project. Organised by the HDB and Singapore Kindness Movement, it called for ideas from students and residents to promote neighbourliness.

Twelve teams received plaques and cash prizes of up to $2,000 for coming up with the best ideas, which included a baking workshop, a fishing trivia game and sessions for residents to design and exchange postcards.

This article was first published on May 31, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.