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PLAY@Punggol winning design: Pencils by the Water

By January 1, 1970No Comments

Be surrounded by larger-than-life colour pencils and immerse yourself in stories from the community! This is DP Green’s winning design for the PLAY@Punggol design competition to enliven public spaces along Punggol Waterway with delightful installations.

We catch up with the winning teams and other competition participants on their designs for the first location (near Waterway Point) along Punggol Waterway.

Winning design – Pencils by the water (Location 1)

By DP Green Pte Ltd
Team: Poornima Bargotra, Thun Kongsub, Yvonne Tan

Winning design pencils by the water showing community features for PLAY@Punggol design competition
Image credit: DP Green.


Inspired by the simple pencil that people use to write, draw, and envision all kinds of possibilities, the winning design for this installation features 12 unique life-sized pencils that will enable people to explore the many different facets of Punggol’s heritage and identity, from past kampongs to its waterway journey and story. People can also enjoy sitting around with some of the structures serving as benches or add their own stories and interact with others through features in these structures such as bird houses and chalkboards. 

The jury applauded the design: “The design creates an impressionable and iconic look, relating well to its location and context. It can also serve as an attractive place marker and be a great place for people to gather.”

What was the inspiration behind the idea?


Yvonne: The idea behind this design was based on our own experiences of running through the trees or the forest and having fun drawing with simple pencils. It is an object that we are all familiar with and rarely give a second thought to it. Yet, it is with this humble tool that we draw and dream up new possibilities. In creating Pencils by the water, we sought to pay homage to these formative memories and playthings of our childhood by combining both these threads. We also wanted to create a playful installation that encourages interaction within the community and inspire deeper bonding where people can add to the Punggol narrative while forging new memories within it. 

Poornima: As part of the competition, we wanted to use the recycled log woods in their natural form as much as possible. That led to the idea of creating life-sized pencils with 12 different colours. Placing these in a grid-like form like a board game would hopefully make the space even more fun and compelling.

Play@Punggol design competition winning team for design entitled Pencils by the water by DP Green
The team from DP Green, from left, Poornima, Kongsub and Yvonne.

Why did you decide to join the competition?


Kongsub: DP Green was part of the Punggol Green project, where we transformed the space under the Punggol LRT viaduct into a linear park with unique public spaces. We were motivated by this and wanted to continue to find ways of enhancing other public spaces in the neighbourhood. This competition offered a great opportunity for us to do so.    

Punggol green by DP Green under Punggol LRT viaduct
Punggol Green under the Punggol LRT viaduct.

How do you hope people will experience this installation and space?


Yvonne: Our hope is for the installation to function as a fun but meaningful space for play, reflection and interaction for both residents and park-goers. Residents can consider holding small block parties here. The community can also use the installation and the space around it to regularly curate and share different types of neighbourhood stories or support and share common interests.

Winning design pencils by the water by DP Green for PLAY@Punggol design competition
Features that the installation could have for the community to curate the displays and contents. Image credit: DP Green.

Why is it important to activate and create meaningful public spaces?


Yvonne: People visit a place not just for its shopping centres but for much more. Public spaces can be curated and activated for people to come together to make new memories or remember familiar ones.

Poornima: Well-designed or distinctive public spaces can spark interesting interactions and conversations amongst friends, families, and strangers, all of which are important for us to bond and connect with one another. 

Kongsub: I see public spaces as being able to improve and enhance our personal and community wellbeing. It is great to see that Singapore has designed and created so many different types of public spaces across the island that we can all enjoy.

Other notable submissions

Two other submissions were also recognised – submitted by teams from Prose Architects and Designshop.

Such folly! (First runner-up – Location 1)
By Prose Architects
Team: Alvin Liau, Adlin Fakhrudin

Play@Punggol design competition runnerup design entitled such folly by Prose Architects
Image credit: Prose Architects.


The installation’s design is inspired by nostalgic children science props such as the cup strong telephone or the periscope to create playful follies that can serve as an anchor along the promenade and encourage us to connect with one another and our surroundings.

On the experience they wanted to create, Adlin explains further: “I was inspired by my experience along the Han River in Seoul where there were different sensory elements that I enjoyed, with the water glimmering in the sun, the plants rustling against each other. We wanted to bring this across in the design as well, where people can forget the busy worlds around them. With the installation design, people can wander and play with different sensory elements.”

Symphony of Punggol (Second runner-up – Location 1)
By Designshop Pte Ltd
Team: Samuel Lee, Jesselyn Lim, Lim Chen Hee and Tieh Zu Guang

Play@Punggol design competition runnerup design entitled Symphony by Designshop
Image credit: Designshop.


The pavilion design drew inspiration from Punggol’s history as a fishing village, evolving into a vibrant eco-town while preserving its strong connection to the water. The team translated this inspiration into organic curves, symbolising the harmony of nature and the flowing waterway.

Elaborating on the design, Samuel shares: “Our proposal sought to inspire curiosity and wonder, inviting people of all ages to experience the installation creatively. We deliberately blurred the distinctions between the roof, seating, and structures to open more possibilities for interpretation and interaction. People can use the lowered undulating roof as a relaxing gathering space, and the ‘hammocks’ made of tensile rope can be used for rest or playful climbing, or one can simply sit and admire the view.”


About the competition

The PLAY@Punggol design competition was launched on 3 February 2023, inviting Singapore-based practising designers to design installations at three locations along Punggol Waterway, to help create more interesting and memorable public spaces. 

Play@Punggol design competition 3 locations along Punggol Waterway
Map showing the three locations for the designed installations along Punggol Waterway for the competition. 

With future enhancements and developments coming up around the area such as the Punggol Digital District and the Punggol Heritage Trail Park, the activated public spaces along Punggol Waterway can become new focal points for communities in the area. 

The winning design ideas for the three locations were awarded to teams from DP Green and Land Design One, from a total of 81 submissions received for the competition. Another seven teams and individuals were also recognised for their designs. 

The competition is organised by URA and is supported by the National Parks Board and JTC Corporation, with the Singapore Institute of Architects as the appointed Promoter. It provides an opportunity for practising designers to contribute towards the design and activation of public spaces in Singapore. 

The installations for the three locations based on the winning designs are expected to be completed by the first half of 2024. 

Thumbnail image credit: DP Green. 


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