UPDATE #3: There are a total of 15 such playgrounds in Singapore but only 8 are currently open to the public. See the new updated list here: www.cheekiemonkie.net/2016/05/wallholla-vertical-playgrounds-singapore-locations.html
UPDATE #2: Another vertical playground at Punggol has opened!
UPDATE #1: Thanks to one of my readers, Emily, who alerted me to another similar vertical playground in Ang Mo Kio, there are now 4 such playgrounds in Singapore! Do leave a comment if you know of others. Thanks! :)
Once in a while, I come across a playground that stops me right in my tracks and make me go, 'WOW!' I did it when I saw the Battleship playground at Sembawang Park for the first time, and did it again when this came along.
You can probably guessed what happened next, don't you?
Understandably, the monkies
A quick research online told me that this vertical playground, otherwise known as 'Wallholla', was first constructed in Bishan and has the distinction of being Asia's first vertical playground at that time.
Encased in a three-storey high metal grid cage, the Wallholla is made up of undulating ribbon-like layers. The play structure is suitable for children aged five to 12, and big enough to hold 30 children at once.
Kids can walk on the orange wavy layers at some points, or scale them at others. As they navigate their way through the cage, some surfaces change to become rope mesh or simply gaps, encouraging kids to think of ways to conquer the obstacles.
The exterior vertical grills also have climbing holds - much like those on rock-climbing walls - to allow kids to climb around on the exterior surface and enter the structure midway through a window. There is even a fireman pole for those who crave for that rush of adrenaline!
Okay, I know some of the concerns that may arise - that the structure is too high and kids could fall and injure themselves. But I learnt that the playground had been built to conform to Safety Standard 457, which is essentially the local guideline for safety measures for playground design, installation and maintenance.
This means that it had been assessed by independent safety inspectors for elements such as protruding parts and gaps, which might cause children to fall through or get limbs stuck or their clothes entangled. In addition, the orange surfaces are made of hardened synthetic rubber so I guess that makes falling on it not as painful as it looks.
Frankly, I am impressed by the design of the vertical playground. The standard playgrounds at most parks nowadays usually consist of a simple climbing structure, slide, and swings. This vertical playground, on the other hand, encourages kids to climb, hang, swing, slide, run, jump, hide and pretty much come up with ingenious ways to play compared to any other playing equipment.
Like Ale, who was initially unsure of vaulting across the orange levels due to the gaps or faced difficulty in climbing onto the rope mesh. But by the end of the play session, she managed to overcome them and was scampering freely from surface to surface - just like a true monkie!
And yes, even the wifey could not resist joining in the fun.
Besides the one at Cambridge Estate, there are currently three other vertical playgrounds of a similar nature in Singapore. One of them is rather accessible at Junction 8 Shopping Centre, Level 3.
Boasting additional polygonal climbing structures, the Wallholla has a slide which brings screaming kids from mid-level to the ground.
The other is at Block 158 Bishan Street 13, and is similar to the one at Cambridge Estate in terms of set-up.
But it will probably be worth your time making a trip down to this vertical playground in Bishan as there are two other climbing structures for kids to totally expend their energy!
And thanks to a reader, I found out there is one more located along Jalan Mengkudu and Ang Mo Kio Ave 2!
Vertical Playground #5 has arrived - in Punggol in front of Block 673A Edgefield Plains!
Spot the cool trampoline too? The playground is pretty big for a HDB playground and even comes with a gigantic spiderweb-like net, metal slide and mini-tunnels!
To promote sensory play, there are also sound pipes that the kids can experiment with by singing (or shouting) into the tubes and hear the different sounds caused by the vibrations in the different pipes!
Looks like these vertical playgrounds will be the default choice for the monkies whenever it is playground time from now on!
If you know of other vertical playgrounds, do let me know in the comments below too. Thanks in advance!
1. Wallholla @ Bishan St 13
158 Bishan St 13, Singapore 570514
2. Wallholla @ Junction 8 Shopping Centre
9 Bishan Pl, Singapore 579837
3. Wallholla @ Cambridge Estate
Along Cambridge Road
Along Jalan Mengkudu, and Ang Mo Kio Ave 2
5. Wallholla @ Punggol Edgefield Plains
In front of Block 673A Edgefield Plains
Note: There used to be another vertical playground at Bukit Panjang Plaza but at the time of writing, the playground is closed for renovation works.