Location :

Ipswich, QLD

Client :

Ipswich State High School

Year :


Sector :

Athletics | Synthetic Turf | Athletics tracks | Soccer | Multi-use sports

With a rapid development of its City infrastructure and housings, the city of Ipswich, located to the west of Brisbane, is becoming the next business hub in Southeast Queensland.

To address the growing numbers of students attending its facilities, the Ipswich State High School contacted SPORTENG to design the upgrade of the struggling natural turf surface to an all-weather synthetic Field of Play.


The Ipswich State High School identified that its main natural turf Field of Play couldn’t sustain such a high level of use. Indeed, being used inside and outside of school hours by other organisations (such as soccer clubs), the existing natural turf oval became a dust bowl with very little turf coverage.


The main driver of this project was to turn this Field of Play from being a dust bowl into a surface that the school could use daily, rain, hail or shine, and that would sustain the high intensity of use before, during and after school. The State government, through the Department of Education, supported this decision by providing funding to get the school a brand-new all-weather synthetic Field of Play.


Balancing client budget and expectations quickly became an intrinsic part of the project. The funding had been pre-determined upfront, and engineering solutions had to fit this precise budget.


Therefore, SPORTENG started by drawing some preliminary estimates, and we took a closer look at the cost upfront before starting any designs to ensure our solutions would meet both requirements and budget.


It was an unusual way to proceed, as we had to reverse engineer our solutions process and develop a design according to a budget and not quote a budget according to an agreed design.


The school’s original vision was to upgrade an area twice as big as the final designed area. Due to budget constraints, we recommended developing a single pitch, allowing the school to keep some contingency in their budget, as required. The design for the pitch would readily enable expansion to accommodate future expansion into a larger synthetic Field of Play to incorporate cricket and AFL.


Another challenge associated with this project was the need to accommodate cricket. To allow a cricket oval to be marked out, the oval would include both the new synthetic pitch and the retained existing natural turf Field of Play. Subsequently, the interface between the natural and the synthetic Field of Play needed to be seamless with no upstand or fencing. Additionally, the synthetic surface at this interface was wrapped over the concrete edge strip to provide a seamless obstacle-free playing surface.


Environmentally speaking, floodwater inundation was another challenge that we had to deal with when designing this project. The site is somewhat prone to flooding. Utilising the existing surface terrain with the inclusion of swale drains and proper drainage infrastructure will provide adequate flood protection to the new Field of Play.


These different requirements had a direct impact on the design solution implemented for this project.

After careful consideration, the client made the decision to use synthetic turf over natural turf for its Field of Play surface. Multiple factors explain this choice:

  • Synthetic turf is generally more sustainable (in terms of use) than natural turf. It can get up to 60 hours of use per week if properly maintained, which answer their “heavy-used challenger” per the community.
  • It’s resistant to most weather conditions and will sustain heavy use during high rainfall events.
  • Compared with the poorly maintained existing natural turf surface, a properly maintained synthetic turf will ensure consistency in presentation and performance and minimise the risk of injury compared to the hard dust bowl that is currently being utilised by the school.
  • Natural turf surfaces are an expensive option for a school to maintain, as they require regular and proper maintenance, as well as an adequate irrigation system. A solution that couldn’t fit into the client’s operational budget and requirements at the time.

Of course, we must be cautious about the environment when putting plastic in the ground, but solutions exist to avoid microplastic displacement on a Field of Play. You can learn more on this topic via our Playbook available here.


After regular meetings with the Department of Education and the school, SPORTENG were able to address all the requirements for this field, and offer a design that was Fit for Purpose and budget.


This upgraded Field of Play will help sustain a healthy lifestyle within the community by encouraging kids to get active, and bringing brand-new sports assets to the local clubs.