Remembering childhood: ‘Play’ features 100 playgrounds in Singapore

Singapore Showbiz
'Play' project featuring playground at 110 Bedok North Road (Photo courtesy of Stefen Chow)

[CORRECTION: A previous version said Stefen Chow is Singaporean. He is actually a Malaysia-born Singapore PR.]

Remember when we used to plan a time with our peers to hang out at the playground after school, playing catch or just running around the premises?

To remind us of those times, about more than a year ago, Stefen Chow, a photographer who grew up in Singapore and is presently based in Beijing, came up with the concept to capture the playgrounds all over Singapore.

The photographs of the playground are then uploaded to the "Play" website, where they are arranged according to the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) map. Users can click on any station to view the playground from that area.

Officially supported by the SG50 committee, Chow, together with economist Lin Hui-Yi, decided to focus on playgrounds in Singapore because they felt that the smaller things in the city-state needed as much recognition as the more iconic structures such as the Marina Bay Sands or the Merlion.

Chow notes, “We are very good at being ambassadors of the sights that certainly deserve praise, but we should also observe the smaller things that deserve their fair share of credit.”

Instead of a typical shot of the playgrounds from the ground, though, Chow offers a different perspective to this memory — an aerial shot.

“The concept of photographing playgrounds from the air is to really recreate our childhood memory, yet to provide a different perspective,” Chow said to Yahoo Singapore.

'Play' project featuring playground at 8 Jalan Rumah Tinggi (Photo courtesy of Stefen Chow)

In fact, looking through the images of the playgrounds that Chow has captured, one does feel a sense of omnipresence, a sense similar to how one may feel when you’re recalling a memory — you’re standing on the sidelines, judging from afar.

According to Chow, there are nearly 1,500 playgrounds in Singapore, and "Play" will feature a hundred of them spread out across the island. The playgrounds featured will only be those in public areas.

While exploring the playgrounds, Chow found that every playground has its own unique design, down to the designs on the floor — something the team found impressive.

'Play' project featuring playground at 169 Punggol Fields (Photo courtesy of Stefen Chow)

To achieve the aerial shot, Chow works with Avetics, an aviation company in Singapore. Together with a two-man crew, a drone pilot and a camera operator, Chow heads to each playground with Avetics where they will fly the drone with a camera. Using a Nikon Coolpix A camera, Chow will then work with the camera operator to get the angles needed. Chow added that it takes about thirty minutes to an hour to photograph the playground.

Chow hopes that viewers of "Play" project will be spurred to remember their childhood through the rediscovering of “what we have in our own backyard or neighhourhood."

'Play' project featuring playground at Woodlands Town Garden (Playground 1), Marsiling (Photo courtesy of Stefen Chow)

Although the team is open to exhibitions in Singapore or overseas, right now, the plans for this project is to generate interest within Singapore, “to create conversations among the heartlanders using the playground as a starting point", he explains.

The public can check out the "Play" site, although it is currently in beta mode. Created by a local website designer, Voidworks, more photographs will be added on to the map once it is fully up in late June this year.

“Now, go discover.”