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Wimbledon Centre Court

The facts

Client:   The All England Lawn Tennis Croquet Club (AELTCC)
Location:   London, South West London
Services:  Structural Engineering
Sector:   Sport & Leisure
Contract Type:   Bespoke
Start/Completion:   2003 - 2009

The project

With a roof weighing 3,000 tonnes and capacity for 15,000 fervent tennis fans, Wimbledon’s redeveloped Centre Court has propelled the home of tennis into the modern age.

Capita provided structural engineering services on the project since its inception in 2003. The work involved the demolition and re-construction of the East Wing together with the provision of an additional six rows of seating around the East, North and West wings. To accommodate these additional seats the original 1922 roof had to be renewed so the opportunity was taken to also provide a retractable roof enabling play to continue even in wet weather.

The Roof: How It Works

The 5,200 sqm roof features a special waterproof structural material (Tenara) that is very strong, highly flexible and at 40% translucent is not transparent for players/spectators but will let in natural light. 

  • The structure is a type of folding fabric concertina, which allows the roof to be folded into a very compressed area when not in use.
  • The roof is divided into two sections, with a total of nine bays of tensioned fabric - four bays in one section and five in the other.  Each of the nine bays of tensioned fabric is clamped on either side to prismatic steel trusses.  There are 10 trusses spanning approximately 77 metres across the court.  Ends of each truss are supported by a set of bogies that move along parallel tracks positioned at either side within the new ‘fixed’ roof. 
  • The roof has been designed to close in a maximum of 10 minutes.
  • After the roof is closed, play can resume after a period of around 30 minutes, depending on climatic conditions.

The arena’s air-management system also has a particularly vital role in controlling and stabilising the internal environment within the bowl - essentially controlling humidity and preventing either condensation on the inside of the roof or sweating of the grass, either of which would make the court slippery and unsuitable for play. 

Awards

  • ECCS European Steel Design Awards 2009 - UK Winner
  • BCSA Structural Steel Design Awards 2009 - Winner