An arts-driven playspace for families.


Pip's Playbox at Esplanade


Esplanade Theatres By The Bay


Ong Ker-Shing, Joshua Comaroff, Chen Shunann, Yee Huixian


The Playbox project was a miracle of timing, in that it was exactly what we were looking for as consumers. Our own children had grown tired of Singapore’s family-oriented spaces, and were looking for something a bit more exploratory and artistic. The clients were highly sophisticated: a team of programming specialists from The Esplanade, who hoped to create a new kind of hangout for kids and their parents—a combination of play-space, library, and informal venue for story-telling and performances.

The site was perhaps the most awkward we have had to work with: the kind of un-considered leftover that exists at the edges of “iconic buildings,” where odd geometries go unresolved. It is a narrow, high volume, shaped by one of the building’s signature domes as it descends toward its base. At the same time, the striking V-shaped columns that hold up the roof spring from the centre of the room, creating an infinity of ways to hit your head. Luckily, the client shared our vision of Playbox as a highly 3-dimensional environment, with spaces lodged between, around, and above the angled structure. This allowed the creation of niches and nooks for children to occupy within the larger volume, as well as “tree house”-like roosts. At the same time, towers of boxes rise through the void, containing surprising contents: lights, sounds, props, toys and games. We feel that the irrationality of the original room has been preserved, and gives Playbox that slight aura of mystery that is a key ingredient of memorable and transporting children’s environments.

All photos by Darren Soh/ Fullframephotos