Torhaven Park frames the entrance to DHA’s Torhaven estate in the Ipswich suburb of Deebing Heights. Covering 2.2ha, the former farmland has been landscaped to incorporate a meandering creek-like catchment descending into and passing through an industry-first “ephemeral floodplain wetlands” solution, completed in early 2019.
Currently, best practice urban flood management strategies restrict the use, embellishment or development of floodplains, creating large unusable land spaces within urban developments. As a result, floodplains become “giant drains” and eyesores. Not so at Torhaven.
Torhaven’s ephemeral wetland sits within a floodplain, replacing traditional bio retention stormwater systems, and retains the land’s slope and existing watercourse. While dormant for extended dry periods, the ephemeral wetlands can accommodate torrential run-off from Torhaven and 45 hectares beyond, removing pollutants naturally before the water flows back into the local Deebing Creek system. All the while, allowing engagement by residents – both human and wildlife – with a previously unusable floodplain.
Torhaven was owned by the Rawlings, a prominent Ipswich family which in 1898 founded Rawlings Shoes and Menswear store in Ipswich. The old farm gate that formed an entrance to the Rawlings’ farm has been retained. Standing tall, the gum trees have also been retained for birdlife to flourish. Safeguarding the gums involved detailed earthworks, hand digging around their roots to prevent damage to delicate, centuries old root systems and position them higher than their surrounds.
On the crest of the park is an architect-designed children’s adventure playground complete with shade sails, treehouse network with rope bridges, climbing frames, and rock-climbing walls, plus seesaw, spinami, hoop carousel, multi swing and mounded slippery slide.
Walking trails fall away from the playground, dotted by plaques informing users of flora and fauna and site’s heritage, with drawings contributed by children of the Deebing Heights State School. The trails meander through the gum trees, wetlands and floodplain which features 50 native drought-tolerant plant species, attracting native birdlife.
DHA engaged E2Designlab to design the project, and through rigorous site investigation and modelling, they were able to provide Ipswich City Council with confidence to proceed with Torhaven’s innovative ephemeral wetland solution. The result is a project that not only meets the water quality objectives of the State Panning Policy, but delivers a naturalistic ecosystem for the broader community.
Torhaven’s industry-first ephemeral wetland project has been recognised in three prestigious industry awards:
- WINNER, 2019 Stormwater Queensland Awards for Excellence – Excellence in Infrastructure category
- FINALIST, 2019 Sustainability Awards – Landscape & Biophilia category
- FINALIST, 2019 Australian Water Awards – Innovation category