Nestled in the heart of Singapore sits the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which was founded in 1859. Spanning 82 hectares and housing more than 10,000 different species of plants, the Gardens has been an integral part of Singapore’s agricultural history through the collection, growth, experimentation and distribution of potentially useful plants. Since then, the Gardens has been carefully nurtured to inculcate a love and appreciation for nature in the residents of Singapore.
The Gardens’ most recent extension, the Gallop Extension, was unveiled on 21st March 2021, featuring the COMO Adventure Grove. Brought to life by playground specialist Playpoint, the Grove is a nature-themed playground designed and built based on the concept of biophilia.
Described as “the passionate love of life and all that is alive”, biophilic design is a concept used to increase connectivity to the natural environment. Biophilic designs are meant to celebrate and show respect for nature by providing an enriching urban environment using direct or indirect elements of nature, and creating a human connection to the natural environment where the structure is situated.
Families and their little ones visiting this area will be able to experience nature through sensory play, such as sight, sounds, touch, and smell. By guiding them to learn about nature through play, children would hopefully be able to love and care for Mother Earth.
The Banyan Tree Tower
Inspired by the Banyan tree, the magnificent Banyan Tree Tower stands steadily in the middle of the Grove, with more than fourteen branches sprawling out from it across a large sandpit. Play elements such as climbing ropes, swings, circular nets, and hammocks are imbued into it, allowing children to partake in physical activity that will strengthen their body and mental fortitude.
To help the Tower meld seamlessly into the foliage of the Gardens, the structure was carefully texturised and hand-painted to mimic tree bark. Lush abundant greenery is also intertwined throughout the playscape, helping the Tower look like a natural part of the Gardens.
Children can duck, swing, and hide amongst the vines of the Banyan Tree Tower and its impressive branches, giving them the chance to get up close and personal with this magnificent tree species. For an additional pop of thrill, two tube slides of varying heights and lengths allow children to quickly whoosh from the canopy of the tower to the ground, before beginning their ascent once more.
Native to tropical Asia, and commonly known as the Jackfruit, the Cempedak’s thorny surface served as a source of inspiration for this play feature in the COMO Adventure Grove. When magnified and enlarged to a climbable degree, the shell of the fruit offers a fun, exciting, and engaging experience for children to scramble and clamber over.
The structure was painted according to the colours of the actual fruit, with different shades of brown and green used on each thorn to mimic the colour differentials found on the Cempedak itself.
Climbing plays a key role in early childhood motor skills development, helping children hone spatial and directional awareness, as well as boosting physical skills such as balance, hand and foot coordination, and agility. With different holding grips and varying levels of scaling difficulty, children of all ages will have no qualms climbing all over the Jackfruit.
The Saga Seeds
Drawing inspiration from and giving thanks for even the littlest things in nature are what serves to make the ordinary extraordinary. Saga seeds, usually smaller than a square centimetre, bright scarlet red, hard and shiny in nature, are brought to life through an obstacle course in the COMO Adventure Grove.
For many of Singapore’s older generation, collecting saga seeds to use in art or as keepsakes form a large part of childhood nostalgia. To pay homage and share some of that nostalgic joy with the younger generation, specially designed, gigantic, saga seeds provide colourful and springy seats for them to interact with.
Placed over a sandy pit with other obstacle elements and surrounded by mock hilly terrain, children are welcome to hop over, balance on, and race through the course to their heart’s content.
The Built and the Natural
The COMO Adventure Grove was conceptualised to reflect the purpose of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and serves as proof that urban spaces can embrace nature, draw energy from it, and give back to it. By teaching children to love and care for nature through fun sensory play, they will hopefully act as informed advocates for the conservation of nature and green spaces in the future.
Project Location: 5 Gallop Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
Playpoint (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.