Yan Kit Playfield 


Most working adults in Singapore spend a lot of time in the Central Business District, also known as the CBD. But beyond the office and usual lunch spots, not many are aware of the lesser-known things to do in the CBD.

Sometimes, you just need to take a breather from the office, and there are many green spaces around if you know where to look. Yan Kit Playfield, tucked away behind Pinnacle @ Duxton and the Tanjong Pagar Community Club, is one fine example. 


Art Deco building in the CBD 


Yan Kit Playfield: Former Art Deco Pool That’s Now A Public Sports Facility Hidden In The CBDImage credit: @thainlin

I was taking a walk around the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood one day and chanced upon an Art Deco-style building, which was intriguing especially since it was surrounded by modern skyscrapers like the Pinnacle @ Duxton. 

Elements like its C-shaped building, round windows, perforated blocks, and ticketing counter pointed to its past life as a swimming pool – you know, those that look right out of a Wes Anderson movie. Signage at the front said “Yan Kit Playfield”, but my questions were still left unanswered. 

Out of curiosity, I then Googled the history of the place. 


Former public swimming pool 


As it turns out, the entire area was once Yan Kit Swimming Complex, which opened in 1952 as the second public swimming pool in Singapore. Its name is an ode to Chinese pioneer and dentist Look Yan Kit, who was evidently an MVP during those times. 

Yan Kit Playfield: Former Art Deco Pool That’s Now A Public Sports Facility Hidden In The CBD
Yan Kit Swimming Complex back in the day.
Image credit: National Archives of Singapore

There were once 3 pools: the adult pool, children’s pool, and diving pool. Old photos also showed a single-storey clubhouse and 3 small blocks that functioned as changing rooms. 

When it first opened, the entry price was only 15 cents. Compared to the entrance fee for ActiveSG swimming pools which now starts from $1/adult on weekdays, that’s considered a steal. Inflation, amirite?

Yan Kit Playfield: Former Art Deco Pool That’s Now A Public Sports Facility Hidden In The CBD
Now a multi-purpose court where you can play basketball, netball, and volleyball, among others.
Image credit: @lkc41filmcache

Yan Kit Swimming Complex functioned all the way till 2001 before it closed due to high maintenance costs and a decrease in popularity. It was then redeveloped and reopened as a community sports facility 18 years later in 2019 after an extensive refurbishment. 


Multi-purpose court & fitness areas free to the public


Yan Kit Playfield: Former Art Deco Pool That’s Now A Public Sports Facility Hidden In The CBDImage credit: @the_curious_accountant

Fast forward to today, it’s now Yan Kit Playfield. The open-air sports complex is free to the public, with facilities such as a 3-in-1 multi-purpose court for ball games such as basketball, netball, and volleyball; a play gym for the kiddos; a running track; an outdoor area with fitness equipment for seniors; a functional fitness corner where you can smash your fitness goals; and even an event space.

Yan Kit Playfield: Former Art Deco Pool That’s Now A Public Sports Facility Hidden In The CBDImage credit: @piper.sheltie

There’s also an open green space for those keen to play field games, or simply let their furbabies run free.


Check out Yan Kit Playfield 


The next time you need a break from staring at your computer in the office or just need an alternative to your usual gym, lace up your running shoes and head on to Yan Kit Playfield instead. Not only will you get to burn a few calories, but you also get a blast from Singapore’s past. 

Find out more about Yan Kit Playfield

 

Getting there: 6-minute walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station 

Address: 17 Yan Kit Road, Singapore 088268
Opening hours: 24/7, Daily

More things to do in the CBD:


Cover image adapted from: @the_curious_accountant, National Archives of Singapore, @lkc41filmcache.